Seahawks Insider

Offseason rewind: Gaining those tough yards

Post by Eric Williams on March 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm with 41 Comments »
March 30, 2010 3:22 pm

Former Seahawks running back T.J. Duckett

The Seahawks made a somewhat surprising move at the end of training camp in 2009, getting rid of short yardage running back T.J. Duckett and choosing to bring in veteran Edgerrin James to complement Julius Jones.

Duckett was a one-trick pony if there ever was one, but he was effective at that one skill, getting first downs in short-yardage situations. During the 2008 season, Duckett converted 26 of 62 rushes into first downs and finished with eight rushing touchdowns.

However, he gained only 172 yards on the year, averaging a pedestrian 2.8 yards per carry. The Seahawks had hoped to turn Duckett loose more often in 2009, but after watching him struggle to break tackles and get to the edge of the defense on outside zone plays during the preseason, the Seahawks cut Duckett loose and signed James to a one-year deal.

In retrospect, the James signing turned out to be a bad move for Seattle. James was great in the locker room, but he no longer had the explosive burst he possessed in his early years in the league. James finished with 125 yards on 46 carries for a 2.7 yards-per-carry average – numbers eerily reminiscent of Duckett. The Seahawks cut James after a Week 8 loss at Dallas. James was expendable because Justin Forsett had taken on a larger role in the team’s running game.

But with Duckett and James no longer in the fold, Seattle struggled to convert first downs in short-yardage situations. According to Stats.Inc, the Seahawks converted 57.6 percent of their rushing attempts on third and short (3rd and three or less) into first downs, putting them tied for 26 overall in the league.

That number was much better in 2008 with Duckett on the team. Seattle converted 70.4 percent of third and short situations that season, good enough for 10th overall in the league.

Seattle was a respectable 17 of 27 (63 percent) on converting third-and-one situations. They threw the ball 10 of 27 (37 percent) times on third and one, converting six of those plays into first downs. According to this article for Advanced NFL stats, those numbers are in line with how much NFL teams throw in third and one situations.

Seattle’s throws on third and one included Seneca Wallace’s one-yard touchdown to Julius Jones after Matt Hasselbeck suffered a rib injury in San Francisco. Hasselbeck’s play-action pass to a wide-open John Carlson at Arizona was another nice call on third and short.

However, some of Seattle’s failure’s on third and one were a microcosm of the team’s season. Deion Branch’s eight-yard loss on a reverse in a close game against Chicago comes to mind.

And add Hasselbeck’s interception to linebacker A.J. Hawk against Green Bay to that list. Seattle had ran the ball seven of the first eight plays of that drive against the Packers, but for some, curious reason chose to run a naked bootleg on third and a yard from the 36-yard line, changing the momentum of that game to Green Bay’s favor.

With Seattle’s struggles on third and short last season, it’s apparent they need a reliable, big back to help convert short-yardage situations. Having a big back like Duckett will give Seattle a better chance of keeping defenses honest in third and short situations, so they don’t have to rely on gadget plays like a reverse to trick the defense on third and short.

LSU running back Charles Scott

And while many mock drafts have Seattle taking C.J. Spiller in the first round, the Seahawks might better be served taking a big back later in the draft. This year’s draft is deep in running back talent. Players like Auburn’s Ben Tate (5-11, 220), Stanford’s Toby Gerhart (6-0, 231), Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer (5-11, 229), Oregon’s LeGarrette Blount (6-1, 241) and Tennessee’s Montario Hardesty (6-0, 225) would fill that need.

Another interesting prospect is LSU’s Charles Scott (6-0, 238). Scott served as the Tigers’ short-yardage back last season and has proven he can get it done. And the Seahawks could get Scott in the later rounds of the draft.

Xs and Os
Leave a comment Comments → 41
  1. ChrisHolmes says:

    I think if you have a chance to get a difference maker, and you feel like Spiller is one of those guys, you take him.

    Look at Tennessee and Chris Johnson.

  2. crappyemailname says:

    Agreed. Even if you take Spiller and you feel you need a short yardage guy, go ahead and take one late in the draft. You can never have too many good running backs and if we had to let Julius Jones go to clear the room, you’d get no tears from me.

  3. Dukeshire says:

    I think an important distinction is that guys like Gerhart and Hardesty, who played their college ball in zone schemes, are more than simply short yardage specialists. Whereas Blount who is rather one dimensional, should he make a roster, appears to be little more than that. And for Seattle, who is in desperate need of versatile talent, a short yardage specialist is out of the question. (Not to mention Alex Gibbs golden rule, “no negative plays”). Eric makes mention of another important element; play calling. Gone are the absurd “senecat” formations and reverses on third down and hopefully a more disciplined and straight forward approach to short yardage playcalling. And now that Knapp is gone along with his irrational fear of handing the ball the fullbacks in short yardage, we may get to see if Schmitt is capable of shouldering the load a bit. And when you throw in Carroll’s desire for a bigger back it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them take Gerhart, Hardesty or Dwyer at 60, should any of them be there.

  4. Chris Johnson has some Pro Bowl quality OL in front of him. We don’t. Michael Roos would be a Pro Bowl LT if he played in the NFC. Plus, Johnson is a guy who has proven he can carry the load. Spiller’s skill set indicates he won’t be a 25 carry per game guy. I’m not against taking him, I just think it’s not going to matter who is our RB is if our OL isn’t given attention first and foremost.

  5. nighthawk2 says:

    There are many guys who are likely to go undrafted and can become priority free agents. Scott might be one of them, he only played in 9 games due to a broken collarbone and didn’t play in the Senior Bowl because he failed his physical. Aren’t fullbacks supposed to pick up that kind of tough yardage? Owen Mohawk couldn’t do that huh? Well a couple of guys to consider are John Conner from Kentucky, listed at 5’11” and 241 and Manase Tonga from BYU at 5’11” and 245. Or Toney Baker from N.C. State, he’s 5’10” and 235 and ran a 4.53 at his Pro Day.

  6. MattandCindy says:

    There seems to be quite a few options on “bigger” backs in the later rounds. Personally, I would drool over Gerhart in a Hawks uniform…

    …and I really hope Carroll doesn’t draft McKnight. We can’t be the USC Pro Football Factory Seahawks.

  7. chrisj122 says:

    The Hawks stats won’t change much on the 3rd and short or 4th and short unless we upgrade the O-Line. To many times in the last 3 years in short yardage situations our O-line could not get a push for 1 crap a$$ yard. Last year watching Knapps play calling on 3rd or 4th and short, made me want to puke!

  8. Those short yardage would have been nuthin’ for a 255 lbs agile Weaver. Duckett was a waste.

  9. EyeAmBaldman says:

    I like Gerhart and Dwyer as big backs. Spiller is a playmaker but we’ve got one of those in Forsett. Julius can hit the bricks as far as I’m concerned. Forsett, Dwyer (or Gerhart) and maybe McKnight wouldn’t be so bad. You know PC’s gonna pick at least 1 USC guy.

  10. Dukeshire says:

    Leonard Weaver. First thing I thought of when I saw this post.

  11. EyeAmBaldman says:

    @excile: Agreed on Weaver. Timmy blew that one.

  12. I’d still like to see Forsett get a chance to show what he can do. He reminds me so much of Darren Sproles.

  13. Just watched a replay of the Seahawks 34-14 win over the Panthers in the NFC Championship game. I would love to see Forsett run behind that O line.

  14. Dang, that S.Morey article brought back memories of that ’09 home game vs AZ. Then, with Edge vs Duckett Hawks got 0 for 11 on 3rd down conversions in that game. 42 minutes 50 seconds AZ TOP vs 17 minutes 10 seconds for Hawks. Gotta be able to get the 1st down, even against the Cards – at home.

  15. edstang45 says:

    I just watched a replay of the NFC Championship game with Carolina.
    The thing that stood out in that game was not our defense which was adequate all year. Lots of journey men type players in the D backfeild, Our D line was not much better as far as talent is concerned to last years team. Our Special team was average at best. As for the offense Our Receivers were just good, maybe Jureviscious was Very Good, Alexander had his carreer year of course, and Matt was outstanding period. But what made this team great (besides the coach) was the all world O-line!!!! Remember them Jones,Hutch,Tobeck Gray and cant even remember who play right tackle.

    They made that offense the highest scoring Team in the league with mostly non probowl players at the skill positions. It made Alexander Great and Matt was the highest rated passer that year.

    My point is although most experts dissagree with me, We need another all world O-Line. b efore anything else. I know I’m barking up a tall tree but dang watching that game just made me wish all the more for Okung/Bulaga #6, Iupati #14 then get a big back and keep our offense on the feild. They can’r score if we eat up the clock and turn Our running game around and give Matt the time he needs. Our D could be adequate for one more year.

  16. chuck_easton says:


    First off that RT you can’t remember is still on the team. His name is Locklear.

    Second Iupati at #14 is way too high for him. He’s early 20’s at best. Now if the team can get someone to trade down with them and then use a later 1st round pick for Iupati OK. But if they have to pick at 14 it will be either the best DL on the board or a LT (if they use the #6 on Berry or Morgan).

  17. In the 05 season Locklear started all 16 games at RT.

    I agree with you about the O line. Problem is, getting this close to the draft too many Hawk fans forget just how bad the O line was the year before and think offensive problems can be solved with a WR and a RB.

  18. edstang45 says:

    I think Iupati is a beast with the mean sreak we need, 14 or any pick is ok with me for an improved O-line although you experts may disagree

  19. So after listening to Rang today – I think that Williams would be more the target of a Gibbs coached team than Okung or Buluga (sp). As a matter of fact Rang actually said that a number of teams have Williams rated higher than Okung for his flexiblity to play all over the line. If he is that versitile I want him!!

    I would love to see someone like Gerhart added in the later rounds.

    I will also be suprised if we do not draft a WR somewhere on draft day.

    I am still wondering why we let Grant go as well. I realize he was not the greatest but he clearly was better the 2 guys we have left. We are now FORCED to draft a guy or go get someone who is not a great player anyway. I don’t see any of those guys out there (very good – great guys)

    Waiting to see what happens

  20. I think they should bring in Mack Strong as a fullback coach. Seamed to me Weaver really improved when Mack went on IR (was it IR?) and helped out in coaching. Maybe he could help Schmidt? Either way I’d love to see him back with the Hawks as a FB coach.

    Agree with everyone that wants OL. If Iupati is our man for a guard and we can’t trade down what does it really matter if he’s #14 or #20 picked? All for trading down though if we could. It will be interesting who the 9’ers pick at #13. They are probably interested in an OL guy too.

  21. seahawklovertoo says:

    I am all for trading our 1st rounders for more picks…. but, if we can’t get anything going that way, then I’d like to see ( I know it won’t be possible ) : #6 Okung , #14 Trent Williams for right side tackle and #60 Mike Johnson at guard. If Detroit takes Okung before we can , then I’d like Williams at #6, reach for Iupati at #14 and take Valdheer (correct spelling?) at #60. The way I see it, if we can’t draft the only sure thing defensive player ( SUH), than we must fix our OL situation for years to come. I don’t think Lock is our long term solution at right tackle. There will be few big RBs in the fourth for us to chose or, later. Same with the safeties.
    Plus, we will get something for our RFAs ; trade Branch, JJ and Hill after the draft AND ” raid the other teams’ pantries” (Practice Squads) for one or two players we couldn’t draft.
    I’d say it again : I hope we can sign Alex Brown after the Bears cut him loose.

  22. edstang45 says:

    Yea williams would be fine too , I just want the o-line fixed as you guys do too, but it looks to me that PC and Schneider are leaning toward Defense and using guys Gibbs thinks he can coach up. hope I’m wrong. But I just wonder how good Forsett could be running behind a great O-line

    As far as Iupati being a reach at 14 then do whatever it takes, watching him at the combine he looked like he would eat you for lunch

  23. i don’t want toby gerhart. white running backs suck.

  24. I would love for the Seahawks to land Blount in a later round. He is Weaver except with an attitude. Watching any of the Oregon games you would have seen him gaining yards even when the blocking had completely broken down and really clobbering rushers when he was pass blocking. He reminds me of Brandon Jacobs when running the ball and is very hard to bring down. But of course we need OL picks first.

  25. So I had a friend ask me if I would trade our #6 to SF for the #13 and #16.

    Not sure if I would or wouldn’t. Don’t want to give a division rival the #6 but at the same time picking 13,14,16 would be pretty cool

    If offered, just for fun sake (I know it won’t add up points wise) would you do it?!?!?!

  26. rockoutwithyourhawkout says:

    Yellow running backs are way worse than white running backs.

  27. BrianBlades says:

    Gerhardt sucks is right on.

    Love the haters on here with their impossibly obscure trades and draft picks or their obscurely impossible scenarios that would all work out just as well as Mike Teel being the starter.

    Personally I look forward to them all being wrong and Spiller and Carroll taking the Hawks back to glory.

  28. chuck_easton says:


    Let me put this to you as kindly as possible. You may want the Seahawks to take to OL in the first round. You have even said you want the team to use their first 3 picks on OL. AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN.

    The team has too many holes to use both 1st rounders on OL let alone their first 3. Keep dreaming but it won’t happen.

    The team needs help on the DL, help at Safety, and help at RB. You can bet that even if the team uses one of their 1st rounders on a LT they will not use both. The second pick will be a DL or a safety.

    I agree with BrianBlades. I wouldn’t be at all suprised if the first two picks are Spiller and Morgan and they don’t even use one 1st round pick on an OL.

    I know that would cause you and possibly BobbyK to go into a fit of rage so strong you’re going to risk an instantanious heart attack but you might want to start preparing for it.

    I’d say one OL at the MOST in the first two rounds. I’d be happy with that.

    It has been said by many experts that the team really only needs to fill a big hole at LT. LG will probably be a FA (either Ben Hamilton or Pitts), Center is Unger, RG will be Spencer and that leaves the team with the ability to move Locklear back to RT. I’ll put that on record right now just so I can claim it later.

  29. mojjonation says:

    repeat after me……start at the lines and work your way out. It is correct on both sides of the ball. I can’t recall how many times I have said this. If we have a good line, guys will want to come play here and we won’t need to bend over backwards to try and lure questionable talent with horrible deals, or go after guys with a rap sheet as long as their stat sheet.

    Even Barry Sanders had a so-so line, but he was a one in a million back that retired way too early. Trying to tackle him had to be about the same as trying to catch a squirrel. None of the backs mentioned previously is a one in a million back. Chris Johnson is maybe the closest, but he will retire a Titan.

  30. I’ve pretty well assumed for awhile now that our line is going to be:

    LT the Mystery Man (I hope he doesn’t suck)
    LG Smiley, Pitts, or Hamilton
    C Unger
    RG Spencer
    RT Lock

    And, for the record, I won’t be mad if we take Morgan and Spiller in the 1st round. Morgan is a good player who will be able to get after the QB and defend the run. There’s no way you can get mad at getting a player like that. And Spiller is going to be a great spark plug. If that’s the 1st round though, we almost have to go away from BPA at #60 and get a LT with that pick or use it to offer in a trade to get a legit LT (Brown/Gaither appear to be available and are actually good).

    I’m not saying Walt will come back, nor am I saying if he tries that he’ll be able to make it through training camp. All I’m saying is that if he checks out okay and decides to play in ’10 that it would be easier justifying the #60 pick on a LT who we don’t expect to play right away (even though we know he’ll probably have to play, and start, at some point this season).

    Lastly, it looks like Spiller is going to be a top 10 pick so the chances of a Morgan/Spiller 1st round are slim to none and I think I saw slim leaving town a little while ago.

  31. chrisj122 says:

    The running game clearly needs to be addressed. Do you remember (hate to bring it up) week 13 or 14 last year against Minnesota? The Hawks had a grand total of 4 yards that game. 4 YARDS rushing!!! I remember watching that game and putting most of the blame on the O-line for that not so memorable performance. To sum it up our O-line got pushed around like a bunch of ragg dolls. I don’t care who his running the ball, Weaver or our new quarterback Jesus himself, nobody could be successfull behing that line.

  32. chuck_easton says:

    I agree the team will need to address the OL. But when you have a team that has as many holes to fill as the Seahawks you can’t use all your early picks on one position. They may address at least one OL position in the first two rounds but they also have to address the DL, the secondary (mainly safety — we only have two safeties on the roster right now. Big hint where the team will be going in the draft), and the running game.

    The team can get a big RB in the later rounds so Spiller would be a luxery they may not be able to take. If Berry is available at #6 or one of the big OL (Bulaga, Okung, WIlliams) they will have a big decision to make. If they take Berry at #6 they then have to hope one of the elite LT’s fall to 14 or they would probably look at DL and not even address the OL until the 2nd round.

    Too many holes. Too many bodies out there. Nobody can come on here with any authority and state with anything more than a 50% chance of accuracy what position is taken in the 1st round let alone be able to plug an actual name into that slot.

  33. I would love it if the Hawks would junk the zone blocking system and draft Okung and Iupati at #6 and #14 but that won’t happen.

    Seattle is looking at Jared Veldheer or Jason Fox at LT and Shaun Lauva, Chris Scott or Zane Beadles at OG.

  34. chuck_easton says:

    The good news is things appear to be falling into place quite nicely to have a strong likelihood that there will still be an elite player at one of the positions of dire need (OL, DL, Safety) falling into the team’s lap at #6.

    IF, and I still think it’s a big IF, Bradford goes to the Rams at #1, and IF things go as they appear and Washington takes Claussen at #4 that means Detroit, KC, and Tampa Bay get to choose between Suh, McCoy, Okung, Berry, Bulaga…that’s 5 elite players and only three teams. Looks like 1 or two of those big names will be around at #6. If Seattle doesn’t want any of them, and I’d be shocked, they can always trade that #6 to a team desperate for one of those guys and get more picks later.

    So many options. That is why Thursday the 22nd will be quite a fun night to be a Seahawks fan.

  35. Dukeshire says:

    “Too many bodies out there. Nobody can come on here with any authority and state with anything more than a 50% chance of accuracy what position is taken in the 1st round let alone be able to plug an actual name into that slot” –

    I agree. That’s why I have a hard time getting into all the mock drafts and trade scenarios. I understand the fun of that for some, but I find it frustrating.

  36. edstang45 says:

    chuck_easton unfortunatley I agree with you about all the holes to fill and we probably wont use the high picks for the O-Line. It will be hard to fill all the needs for sure. But no matter how kindly you put it I will not change my wish list. I still say fix one thing, the most galring need and the one need if fixed will put in place the foundation needed by any winning team. Put in place a dominating O-Line and running and passing game improves, then you can build a real winner over the next few years. It’s just my opinion and i’m sure PC doesnt need my opinion. So chill and enjoy the blog

  37. edstang45. I’ve been saying the same about the O line for 2 years. If we used all 3 1st & 2nd round picks on the O line I wouldn’t be upset at all; especially with the rebuilding mode we’re obviously in. .

  38. edstang45 says:

    I’m with ya moo


  40. dstoker32 says:

    I really feel that O-line should be the priority on this team. While I think Spiller is a solid pick at 14 I don’t think he’ll be around that late and I don’t think that he is worth a number 6 pick. My experience in football has taught me that the men in the trenches get it done. Look at the Jets, they had a solid O-line that allowed them to run the ball well and gave their rookie QB enough time to make plays. As it was reported earlier an outstanding O-line with solid players at the skill positions will take you places.

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