Well, unless you live under a rock or work the graveyard, you’ve most assuredly heard by now that LenDale White was released by the Seahawks today.
It’s definitely an interesting twist in these early stages of the Pete Carroll saga, and admittedly, I was completely caught off guard by the move.
As someone who’s been trumpeting White to be this year’s backfield workhorse, I was initially a little put off by the move. Especially after hearing such good things out of mini-camp and voluntary workouts, particularly Pete Carroll’s favorable statements toward White’s new commitment to getting into shape after he strolled into the VMAC at 218lbs (apparently, the lightest he’d been since high school).
Over the last few weeks, the comments from Carroll regarding White had seemed to emit more of a cautiously optimistic tone and have been less to the nature of what you’d typically consider “Carrollistic” (i.e. “Jacked up”, “pumped up”, “He’s really improved,” “he’s gonna be huge for us this year…”, etc.), when compared to those consistently favorable statements about such players as Deon Butler, Chris Clemons and Mike Williams.
White has certainly been somewhat of a lightning rod throughout his brief NFL career, mainly due to his weight fluctuations, towel stomping and occasional flippant statements to the media about his lack of playing time.
A guy like this will typically come with some risk, and guys like Pete Carroll and John Schneider certainly knew this when they acquired him. All signs pointed to this being the case when the Hawks essentially gave up nearly nothing to get him as the Titans seemed eagerly willing to let him go.
Problem: It turns out that apparently, White takes issue with being required to come in and actually compete for his job.
Answer: No job.
And I say, good for the Seahawks.
As big a fan as I was of the Hawks acquiring White, I’m an even bigger fan of Carroll and Schneider making a move that so boldly amplifies and confirms what we’ve been hearing since day one of Carroll’s installment…
Either buy in, or bye bye.
When you’re rebuilding a team under a brand new front office and coaching staff, it’s highly critical that you establish and effectively communicate early on what is going to be required of each player, and make it abundantly clear that nobody is “above the law.”
Today’s move sends an emphatic message that there are no favorites.
No hook-ups, homies, hand-outs or handshake deals for anyone, regardless of how much weight you’ve lost, how little Patron you’ve been drinking lately, where you went to college, how much money you make or even how good of a player you are.
And it was absolutely the right message to send.
As for the remaining competition and depth at running back, Washington, Forsett, Jones and Ganther will duke it out for reps while Schneider monitors the waiver wire and in all probability, hits the phone to inquire around the league about who might be available. And yes, I left Louis Rankin out on purpose, so please don’t go there.
In the wake of White’s release, there’s been quite a bit of initial panic amongst fans, and understandably so. After all, White represented the between-the-tackles bruiser that the Hawks have so desperately needed for so long, and his dismissal suddenly has us all reverting back to visualizations of Julius Jones hitting the deck three yards behind the line of scrimmage. However, don’t assume too quickly that the featured back may not end up manifesting itself in the form of a 5′8, 195-pound little powerhouse out of Cal.
Remember, Alex Gibbs made it work in Atlanta with Warrick Dunn who many thought was too small and fragile to be a featured back in the NFL, and while I’ve been a critic of Forsett’s potential durability issues, there’s no denying his ability.
He’s displayed great vision, good cutback ability, fearless willingness to initiate contact, surprising strength in dragging defenders for extra yardage, and is a legitimate threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.
He’s not a burner and he certainly won’t pull away from NFL secondaries, but with Leon Washington back there to spell him, he won’t need to.
Quinton Ganther’s chances of playing a significant role may have improved today as well. He’s really the one remaining back of his kind now on the roster. At 5′9, 220lbs, Ganther brings the versatility to play both halfback and fullback, and has, in limited time with Tennessee and Washington, been effective in short yardage and goal line situations.
The competition just got a little more intense at running back.
And everywhere else on the field.
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