Give Jim Mora Jr. and Greg Knapp credit, if they don’t like what they see, they’re not afraid to bring in somebody to light a fire under their players.
Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett were supposed to improve under Knapp’s zone blocking and one-cut style of running, but their performances this preseason were uninspired and left the team questioning if what they had would equate to anything this season.
So, with two preseason games in the books, Mora Jr. and Knapp, as well as general manager Tim Ruskell, realized a change needed to be made.
Enter Edgerrin James.
To make room for James, the team cut Duckett, the team’s rushing touchdown leader from the previous season.
Jones, as of now, is still the starter, but will lose carries to James; however, don’t be surprised if the roles change sooner rather than later. That’s because, while James is Jones’ senior by three years, Edge brings more to the team.
James brings incomparable success at the position, being only 123 yards shy of becoming tenth all-time on the NFL’s career rushing yardage list.
He also has played on the league’s biggest stage, when the Pittsburg Steelers bettered his Arizona Cardinals in last year’s Super Bowl.
More times than not a running back starts to decline once he hits the age of 30, but James proved late last season that he still has something left.
In December James saw his role with the Cardinals increase after being relegated to backing up Tim Hightower in Week Nine against the Rams. During that last month of the regular season, James rushed 21 times with an average of 6.2 yards-per-carry. Another important stat was his carries that equated to first downs. Of his 21 rushes in December, six of them went for first downs.
In the playoffs, James regained the team’s starting spot at running back and the bulk of the team’s carries.
During that stretch of time, James averaged 4.6 yards-per-carry in two of the team’s four postseason games. He averaged 3.9 cumulatively for postseason, playing against some of the league’s top defenses.
In his first playing time with Seattle in the team’s fourth preseason game of 2009, James looked impressive, totaling 11 yards while running the same play on back-to-back plays.
Granted it was only two carries, but it’s definitely something to take note of because in Julius Jones’ last game of the preseason (Week Three), Jones started off sluggish. During the first quarter of that game against Kansas City, Jones managed only once to only break a run for more than three yards.
Another knock against Jones is the amount of time he missed this preseason. The running back missed Weeks Two and Four in addition to several practices.
It would appear that Jones could not be ready to come out of the gates strong. This would give James the ability to show that he was not signed to merely stand on the sidelines and occasionally record a statistic or two in each week’s box score.
If Seattle wants to go anywhere this season, they’ll name James the starter and give him the bulk of the team’s rushing duties before Jones falters any more than he already has.