by: Michael Steffes
It seems that most of those leaving comments, both here and other places, are resigned to the fact that if Justin Forsett stays, then TJ Duckett goes. I am not sure I agree with this sentiment, especially after hearing what Mike Holmgren said today. Not about Justin Forsett, but about Deion Branch and the young receivers....
"I was hoping we'd have him for the first ball game. And I said it before, the important thing is how he feels about it. You come off that particular surgery and it's a bugger, it's tough."Not very inspiring about Deion being ready. Reports were that he was running backwards up the berm in Renton, but no one has seen him work on lateral movements yet. On the youngins, coach said in his interview...
When the light goes on in Buffalo, which is different. I suspect they will be absolutely be able do what we ask them to do, but we haven't seen em do it yet.Where does this leave the running back situation? Well for the first time I really think the team is going PUP Deion Branch. Holmgren told Frank Hughes it is a possibility but too early to decide. The only problem there is that Deion won't be allowed to practice with the team, and will still require, probably, two weeks of practice to get him up to speed in Oct/Nov. However, getting Deion back in say week 8 makes a lot of sense. Week one has always seemed like a long shot. I understand them wanting him on the field, but PUPing him just makes alot of sense. Especially if Bobby is really going to be ready after the bye. The receiving core could be solid and deep by the time Branch returns in Week 8. To continue....
In the meantime, the Hawks have a gluttony of running backs. Lets use them. Lets emphasize the run, the screen, the tight end, and a controlled passing attack. If the team PUPS Branch, and then keep 6 Wr's, Nate & Bobby plus the young 4, there could then be room for 6 backs. There would also be some benefits in focusing on the running game.
First off, this approach helps keep Matt Hasselbeck upright and healthy heading into the second half of the season. It also requires a deep faith in the talent on the defensive side of the ball, something most of us have. One thing that will also be key is a good kicking game. You can't give away points when you have a chance to put them on the board.
One thing that becomes a bit counterproductive here is that usually teams are more comfortable throwing in the early part of the season, before rain and cold set in. However, for the Hawks, it could work. The team really doesn't have a bad weather game. Qwest field will most likely provide the worst. And when the weather does hit, the running game will have hopefully sorted itself out.
In reality, Tim Ruskell spent a considerable amount of time and effort revamping the running game. Whether he says it was because he was too good to pass up or not, Justin Forsett was part of that. So was TJ Duckett. And as much as all of us recognize Holmgren for his elaborate passing attacks, he is the same guy who relied so heavily on Shaun for a 5 year period. Taking 8 weeks to fully expand the passing attack will allow John Carlson more time to get up to speed, time for the receivers to get healthy, and most of all time for the running backs to sort themselves out.
The real question then becomes, how will the line perform? Something people seem pretty positive about.
That is my take. Make of it what you will.