Part of the reason why Bevell was a smart hire for Seattle is because he is a coordinator that strives for balance. I believe if the Seahawks are to achieve balance on offense, they must implement a well-rounded running game.
Marshawn Lynch was the primary back in 2010, his “Beastmode” attitude an embodiment of the toughness the Seahawks want. However, he isn’t best fit to be the featured back; rather, the Seahawks have to find balance with Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington.
I’d like to focus on a couple stats from the 2010 season:
In comparing Lynch’s 188 total carries with Seattle (playoffs included) to Forsett’s 126 carries—51 of which came in the four weeks before Lynch’s arrival, an average of 4.2 yards per carry prior to and 4.5 after—the following stood out: The only area that Lynch had a higher yards per carry running between the tackles was between center and left guard, a .9 yard difference.
Forsett averaged 1.9 yards more per rush between right guard and tackle, .4 more per rush on the left side, same positions; Forsett also ran better of the center's right shoulder.
They both out-dueled each other considerably off tackle; Lynch winning off right tackle, 4.6 to 1.8; Forsett doing the same off left tackle, a staggering 10.7 to Lynch’s 5.7. Forsett was also better both outside the tight end and with a fullback.
Forsett’s combination of acceleration, vision and toughness creates a capable inside runner, a strong complement to Lynch—as he has been since their days together at Cal.
Forsett’s shiftiness should be an asset in a primarily zone-blocking scheme, especially as a player who slips through small creases. His major limitation lies in that he lacks breakaway speed, a player who is very good at getting chunks of 10-30 yards.
And while Lynch is an adequate blocker and receiver, Forsett proved strong in pass protection in 2010 and has shown the past two seasons to be a very solid receiver out of the backfield. He also didn’t fumble in 2010, compared to Lynch’s three with Seattle.
Forsett is a well-rounded back that needs to be a regular part of the offense, a consistent one-two punch with the battering ram Lynch. But as noted earlier, Washington is too talented to be left out of the backfield, one year further from his injury and equipped with a new contract.
He proved to be an asset for the Jets as a receiver out of the backfield, particularly on screens; he also has the speed to leak out of the backfield on a wheel route if matched up with a linebacker. His speed on the edge is most dangerous of the three backs and he is strong enough to handle running inside.
While the exact blocking schemes and personnel are still in question, there is little doubt that the Seahawks have a potentially dynamic trio in the backfield; they can do a lot of the little things well and win one-on-one matchups with varying styles.
The question is, will the Seahawks use all of the available parts to create a balanced, whole backfield in 2011?