Why running back issue will be Seahawks’ downfall this season

Russell Wilson could very well finish the season as the Seattle Seahawks’ leading rusher. The team’s running back situation continues to be an absolute mess. And Tuesday’s news that Seattle placed second-year running back C.J. Prosise on injured reserve doesn’t help matters here.

The injury-plagued former Notre Dame star has played in a grand total of 11 of a possible 25 games since Seattle made him a third-round pick back in 2016. He joins fellow young running backs Chris Carson and Tre Madden on injured reserve with an ankle injury.

As ESPN’s Brady Henderson noted, Seattle also called up former San Francisco 49ers mid-round pick Mike Davis from the practice squad. Davis now joins a running back group that includes the unimpressive Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and receiver-turned running back¬†JD McKissic¬†on Seattle’s active roster.

Much has been made of Seattle’s offensive line issues potentially being the team’s downfall this season. But general manager John Schneider and Co. went out there and added Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown to the mix during October’s trade deadline. He should continue to stabilize what had been disastrous pass-protecting offensive line in the past.

The larger question now is whether a lack of true balance on offense will be Seattle’s biggest downfall as the regular season progresses. At 6-3 on the season, Seattle is in playoff positioning. It’s also just one game behind the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West.

Whether this is sustainable remains to be seen. Russell Wilson is Seattle’s leading rusher at 290 yards on the ground. He’s also averaging a robust 5.7 yards per rush. Outside of that, there’s not a whole lot working in the team’s favor here. Seattle’s four active running backs have combined for 345 total rushing yards and an average of 2.9 yards per rush. That’s just horrendous.

With games coming up against three top-10 run defenses to close the season, it’s unlikely this is going to change a whole heck of a lot. When it comes to potential playoff matchups, Philadelphia, Carolina and Minnesota rank in the top three (in that order) against the run this season.

That’s an issue for multiple reasons.

Despite the addition of Duane Brown, Wilson still finds himself under pressure at an alarmingly high clip this season. The MVP candidate has been hit on 20 percent of his drop backs this season. For comparison’s sake, Oakland Raiders signal caller Derek Carr has been hit on less than eight percent of his drop backs. This tells us a story of an offensive line that’s still a work in progress.

Without any threat of a rushing attack on the ground, we can expect Wilson to continue facing a ton of pressure. That’s not a recipe for success late in the regular season or in the playoffs.

And it could be Seattle’s biggest downfall.