With the Seattle Seahawks set to take on the Washington Redskins in Week 9, one of the main points of focus for the team this week has been the creation of a running game that has been lacking so far in 2017. Through the first seven games of the season the team is averaging just 3.7 yards per attempt on the ground, and with just 15 more yards on the ground Russell Wilson will overtake Chris Carson as the team’s leading rusher this season.
No one is saying the running game is performing where it should with the Hawks currently sitting at 27th in the NFL in yards per rushing attempt. However, in spite of the performance by the offensive line through the first seven games and its effect on the team’s ground attack, the Seahawks running game is just 0.02 yards per carry behind that of the Pittsburgh Steeler, who happen to have the most expensive RB in the NFL and the third most expensive offensive line in the entire NFL. The Seahawks are also just 0.09 yards per carry behind the Buffalo Bills, who are also near the top of the league in OL and RB spending. Here’s a quick table to make visualization a bit easier:
In any case, to see if the running game has actually gotten worse since last season, I decided to take a quick look at where the team stood through its first seven games last season and compare the two. So, here are the rushing stats for the Hawks through the first seven games of 2016 and 2017 (with QB kneels excluded).
Now, the first thing anyone who has followed the team will point out is that Russell Wilson was severely hobbled through much of 2016 and thus was not a running threat. Therefore, to make it a more even comparison of the two seasons, I went ahead and removed Wilson’s rushing stats from both seasons. The results look like this:
And that’s the difference between the running games through the first seven games of this season and last season, 38 yards.
With the team set to play its eighth game of the season against Washington on Sunday, it may not be too difficult for the team to move its 2017 performance past the 2016 performance through the first half of the season. This is because the eighth game of 2016 was the absolute bottom for the 2016 running game, with the team recording a whopping 33 yards on the ground on 12 carries. Of those 33 yards, 13 came from Tyler Lockett and another 10 were added by Wilson, while the running backs contributed just 10 yards on eight attempts. C.J. Prosise was the top rushing RB that day, recording 9 yards on three attempts, while Christine Michael added a single yard and a TD on five attempts.
So, while no one at all is claiming the running game this year is anything other than horrible, it’s may be important to keep things in perspective and remember where the running game was at this point last season. Sunday’s game should give a glimpse into what fans might be able to see over the second half of this season, and whether Eddie Lacy can seize the opportunity he has been granted as the lead back against Washington to put some oomph in the running attack.