How will Seahawks’ backfield shake out with Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde back?

RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks plan to continue to run the ball more than they did early in the season. That much is evident from their past two games — and from what coach Pete Carroll has said after those contests.

Less clear is what the distribution of playing time and touches will look like between starter Chris Carson, No. 2 Carlos Hyde and, eventually, Rashaad Penny.

Seattle’s backfield picture looks a little muddy after Monday night’s win at the Philadelphia Eagles. Carson got the start in his return from a foot injury that sidelined him for four games, but Hyde got the majority of the work. Hyde played 41 snaps to Carson’s 25; Hyde finished with 17 touches to Carson’s 10.

Afterward, Carroll hinted at a ride-the-hot-hand approach.

“Those two guys are going to keep pounding away,” the coach said. “One gets hot, then he’ll get more. But those guys are great at bringing it just like we want to.”

To further complicate matters, both players were on the injury report this week. Hyde (toe) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox), but Carroll said he and Carson are expected to play. Carroll said Carson came out of his first game in over a month feeling “a little sore” after taking and delivering some big hits, but he but was a full participant Friday after being limited the previous two days.

“We took care of those guys this week to make sure that they’d both be ready to play,” Carroll said. “We’re counting on both of them.”

A few of the hits Carson delivered/took came on his bulldozing, 16-yard touchdown run in the second quarter in Philly. That play was part of the reason Carroll felt Carson made more of an impact than his numbers suggested. Carson carried eight times for 41 yards and caught two passes for 18 yards. The numbers for Hyde were 22 yards on 15 carries and two catches for seven yards.

Carroll was asked about the possibility of Carson getting more touches against the Giants than the 10 he got against Philadelphia.

“More is good,” he said. “More is good. I love seeing Chris play. It worked out pretty well with a couple catches too and all that. But it’s likely that Chris will get the ball more than that. We ran the ball 30 times last week. [Russell Wilson] had a few of those. It’s a good number for us to shoot for for these guys and split it up with Carlos and see what happens. I don’t really care who gets the most but I would like to see Chris get the ball a little bit more than that.”

Rookie running back DeeJay Dallas only played on special teams against the Eagles, while RB Travis Homer (wrist/thumb/knee) was inactive and didn’t practice on Wednesday. The Seahawks also have Alex Collins on their practice squad, but the he is out of game-day elevations, thus would have to be added to their 53-man roster indefinitely in order to play again.

The Seahawks only rushed for 76 yards on 30 carries against Philadelphia. Several of those weren’t designed runs, but it was nonetheless a continuation of Seattle trying to find balance within an offense that leaned more on Wilson and the passing game than ever over the first 10 weeks.

During that stretch, the Seahawks ranked first in the NFL in dropback rate at 69.2%. But it was 62.3% (15th) in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals — when Hyde returned from his three-game absence — and was even lower Monday night: 57.4% (20th). For comparison, that was a bit above their 54.9% rate from 2018 to 2019, when the Seahawks ranked 31st in that category over Brian Schottenheimer’s first two seasons as offensive coordinator.

“We didn’t run the ball as well as we’d would like to tonight,” Carroll said postgame in Philadelphia. “We have had a lot of trouble running the ball against these guys over the years, and it wasn’t a whole lot different tonight. But we’re going to keep working for the balance and continuing to have both aspects of our offense going.”

The Seahawks’ backfield had Carson and Hyde together against the Eagles for the first time since both were injured in Week 7. When asked if his foot felt 100%, Carson responded, “Yeah, I feel good.” So why were his snaps and carries limited?

“You got two, three, four great running backs,” Carson said. “So they know they don’t have to pound me to the ground. It’s a long season, playoffs. So they did a good job of splitting everything up.”

That group will eventually get more crowded once Penny comes off the physically unable to perform list. He has been working his way back from the knee injury he suffered last December, just as he was starting to come on in a complementary role to Carson. Carroll said Penny will start practicing this coming week. The Seahawks typically like to see players coming off long absences practice for at least two weeks before cutting them loose in games, so Penny likely won’t factor into Seattle’s backfield mix until closer to the end of the regular season.

“Rashaad’s getting real close to doing some stuff, so I’m excited to see if it’s going to be these next couple days or it’s next Monday,” Carroll said. “But we’re right there for Rashaad to jump back in here.”

Published at Sun, 06 Dec 2020 00:32:58 +0000

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