Carroll Shares Running Back Insight

It’s no secret that Pete Carroll loves a strong, stout defense. He loves physical defensive lineman who can attack the quarterback, sniff out the football and make a play when it counts. Carroll’s leadership at USC established that program, and that program sustained its dominance throughout much of the past decade.

And in Seattle, it’s also no secret that the Seahawks’ defense continuously failed where the Trojans have found so much success. The Seahawks didn’t pressure the quarterback last year, couldn’t force turnovers and stayed on the field too long on far too many occasions.

But all that is on defense, and it’s also an area in which the Seahawks have drafted high over recent years under Tim Ruskell, selecting such players in the first round as Kelly Jennings, Josh Wilson, Lawrence Jackson and Aaron Curry. The team has largely ignored offense in the early rounds of the draft, and have not drafted a running back in the first round since Shaun Alexander in 2000, who was selected at 19th overall.

Taking a running back early this year, however, might be something the Seahawks would be well-advised to do.

In this conversation with Eric Williams, Pete Carroll reveals what he wants out of a running back. We haven’t heard much of the offensive direction the Seahawks are soon to be taking, but here’s a possible peek:

Carroll understands he doesn’t necessarily have to select a running back in the first round. Seattle offensive line coach Alex Gibbs has proven he can create an effective run game with solid but not spectacular running backs. When Gibbs coached the offensive line in Denver, Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson and Clinton Portis all ran for over 1,000 yards in a season for the Broncos. None was drafted in the first round.

This would also indicate the front office has a good handle already on who they want in a back, and Williams points out Fresno State bruiser Ryan Mathews would be a prototypical type of guy who could fit the scheme. I have to agree, going by what I’ve seen on film as well as the freakish stats Mathews put up last year. Mathews could be the ideal choice at #40 for Seattle in 2010.

However, more than size or speed, Carroll wants his backs to run hard. A hard-nosed running game was a signature of Carroll’s offenses at USC, and he’d like to establish the same thing in Seattle.

“I think it’s a huge factor for us – in fact for our entire football team – when you can run the football with authority and with attitude,” Carroll said. “It helps your throwing game. It helps the pass protection. It helps your quarterback play better. It accentuates the style of our defense that we like to play.”

Offense helping the defense? Now there’s a concept that could help this team immediately..