Edgerrin James' Signing and T.J. Duckett's Release: What to Expect
Upon hearing the news of Edgerrin James' signing with the Seattle Seahawks, my first thought was, "Who is going to be cut?"
It took a mere four hours of radio speculation and Internet reports to realize that T.J. Duckett was the unfortunate roster cut to make room for the aforementioned James, despite Seattle officials dodging the subject.
Coach Jim Mora Jr. saw something on Saturday he obviously did not like in the run game. With Julius Jones out—not that anyone was fully confident in his abilities—the Seahawks' run game managed feeble numbers on the ground.
Duckett has struggled with the transition to the zone-blocking scheme and it showed in his performance on Saturday night.
In his six first-half carries, Duckett managed 17 yards with a long of eight, meaning his five other carries totaled just nine yards (1.8 yards per carry).
Should last year's numbers mean anything for the big, bruising back? His eight touchdowns on goal line situations meant little in a lost season except hope for the '09 campaign.
Looking at Duckett's numbers for 2008, it is obvious his role was defined.
In all but one game—week three against a dismal Rams team during which he recorded two TDs and 79 yards—he had less than eight carries a game, scoring an additional six touchdowns.
His ability to crash the line for that one yard into the endzone was vital to a hapless offense last year.
It was reported and reassured by the coaching staff that the running game in Seattle was intact and expected to produce in a new, run-first scheme under offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.
But perhaps expectations are leading to worry for a coach beginning his second chance leading an NFL team.
Enter the Mora era. This is a young coach hungry for wins, titles, and championships. Mora is showing he is willing to let go of veteran players who are not falling into his new offensive ideology.
Former Seahawks' coach Mike Holmgren was different in this regard.
Holmgren, who seduced an aging John Randle from retiring (as well as Levon Kirkland) in his early years as the 'Hawks head coach, put precedent on veteran players and the intangibles they offered a team. Experience does not always mean it's what is best for the team.
Mora saw a problem and addressed it. Enter James.
Here is a player whose output we saw decline consistently over the first half of last season and who eventually lost his starting job to rookie fifth-round draft pick Tim Hightower.
So why bring in a player who seems reminiscent of the last year's of Shaun Alexander? Why not bring in another player on the market such as Warrick Dunn? These are valid questions with valid answers.
Unlike Alexander, James played healthy last year, even with an offensive line that gave him few opportunities to break plays.
Additionally, age is always a concern, even though Marcus Allen played productively until he retired at 37. Dunn is 34, James is 31.
Finally, James is comfortable in the zone-blocking scheme, as he played in it for seven years with the Indianapolis Colts.
The fit is right, assuming that there is some fight left in Edge's tank.
James will assume a secondary role to Julius Jones at this point and will likely take the majority of those third-down snaps that Duckett had been expected to take in the upcoming season.
For now, the excitement and concern for the Seahawks' running game will continue to run high.
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