GM Notebook: Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker Comparable to 2 Ex-Pro Bowlers

Kenneth Walker III

Getty Kenneth Walker III #9 of the Seattle Seahawks

Randy Mueller, the 2000 NFL Executive of the Year, brings over 30 years of experience in the football business, including stints as the general manager of Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins. With Heavy, Mueller breaks down the NFL from a front office perspective. You can follow Randy on Twitter @RandyMueller_

Seahawks Don’t Miss a Beat With Rookie RB

Let’s leave the Seattle Seahawks defense out of this discussion, although they did show improvement in stopping an average rushing attack of the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6.

The Seattle offense is now fourth in the NFL in average per rushing attempt. Some of that is QB Geno Smith and his ability to tuck and run (8.0 yards per carry in Week 6). Both Rashaad Penny, who is injured now and out for the year (6.1 YPC), and Kenneth Walker III (5.5 YPC) rank in the top 10 in the entire league in yards per carry. 

But this changes the game for me going forward. The suddenness and evasiveness that Walker brings to the table is a much-needed and missing element to what the Seahawks want to do on offense. His ability to stop and go with instant acceleration is outstanding. It’s a style that they have long needed and I thought made him a great fit when they drafted him in Round 2 of April’s 2022 NFL draft. 

As a GM of any team, I always wanted that feeling of “this guy might break a big run on any given carry.” That’s why we drafted Ahman Green — the leading rusher in Packers franchise history — from Nebraska when I was in Seattle. We were able to repeat that with Ole Miss back Deuce McAllister in New Orleans.

Walker gives me some of that same vibe.

The Packers Need a Perimeter Playmaker, Badly

In watching the Green Bay Packers on tape this week it is crystal clear that they are getting whipped up front consistently. Packer guards had as long of a day, as I’ve seen in a while, in the NFL world in Week 6. The New York Jets overwhelmed them at times and gave Aaron Rodgers no chance to process and then deliver the ball downfield.

Having said that though, much of the time the Packers were their own worst enemy. They stumbled with assignments, and mental mistakes were easy to identify. The Jets also outnumbered them with bodies in the box versus the run and forced the Packers to find answers on the perimeter in the passing game. 

Only when the Packers could get blockers up to the second level were they able to have any success in the running game. That just didn’t happen often enough.  As a team, they ran the ball only 20 times for a paltry 60 yards total. Let’s pretend they can get it together up front even though that might just be a fantasy world. That might not be their biggest issue. 

Let’s dive a bit deeper into what Rodgers has to deal with. Tight end Robert Tonyan has become the “go-to“ target of Rodgers with 12 targets (10 receptions) versus the Jets. But his role has really become that of a safety valve guy. Randall Cobb was a non-factor as a possession slot option and looks to be limited athletically at this point in his career.

Although perimeter options Allen Lazard and Romeo Doubs caught 8 balls between them with 18 targets, they put no fear into a defense with their speed or ability to stretch the field. The group is a far cry from the standard the Packers have set at the position over the last few years. I just don’t see anyone who can get away from tight coverage and make a play much less run by someone with a fifth gear.

Internally, put all the numbers and analytics aside. I would be questioning if this group was good enough, at the end of the day. I have to believe that the Packers front office is beating the bushes of the trade tree for speed of any kind and a playmaking WR. Speed changes the way defenses have to defend you and the Packers have very little of it currently.

OBJ anyone?

Panthers Had No Choice But to Trade Robbie Anderson

New Carolina Panthers head coach Steve Wilks handling of the sideline incident with his WR Robbie Anderson is to be commended. He took charge of the situation, sent Anderson to the locker room and minimized the distraction as quickly and effectively as he could.

The Panthers’ subsequent trading of Anderson to the Arizona Cardinals earlier in the week was the right and only choice the team had. No matter the reasons, Anderson had broken ranks and lost the trust of the staff.

Carolina had to make a deal fast to allow the team to move forward and it sends the right message that the new coach has some authority and is to be taken seriously. Don’t be surprised, if this team can be respectable down the stretch that Wilks gets very serious consideration for the permanent job in 2023.

I know Steve Wilks well, actually signed him as an undrafted free agent defensive back out of Appalachian State in 1991 and spent time with him on the staff of the San Diego Chargers. 

He is a good coach, who was dealt a bad hand in Arizona while there on a one-year stint as their head coach in 2018, when the Cardinals went 3-13. He is a better coach than his record shows and he is very capable of getting the most out of this roster in Carolina that nobody should confuse with a playoff team. I would think the bar of a realistic finish approaching 6-5 would get him real consideration going forward.

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