Julius Jones realizes that the success of the Seahawks depends on his play this year. The former 1,000 yard running back needs to regain that form if the Seahawks have any chance of competing this year.
With the addition of T.J Houshmandzadeh, a healthy Matt Hasselbeck and linebacker Aaron Curry, the fourth overall selection in this year’s draft, the Seahawks have a really good chance to fight for the NFC West title.
Jones is ready to forget about last year after rushing for a less than impressive 698 yards only reaching the end zone twice.
He did get off to a fast start, rushing for 312 yards in his first three games of 2008, although it was against teams weak against the run. Jones was well on his way to repeating his 2006 campaign where Jones rushed for a career high 1,084 yards while with the Cowboys.
Jones struggled the rest of the season reaching the 50+ rushing yard mark only twice and uncharacteristically had lost two fumbles. He has never been a running back prone to losing the ball and didn’t lose a single fumble the previous year.
Jones eventually started losing carries to Maurice Morris. In the final four games Jones only carried the ball six times.
Holmgren quickly placed Jones in the doghouse and went with Maurice Morris down the stretch. “Some of that is not his problem,” coach Mike Holmgren said. “It’s how he’s been used, next season that will kind of sort itself out. They’re all potentially starters, just how we juggled that, trying to be fair, probably hurt Julius a little bit this year.”
“Last year is last year,” Jones said. “I’m not even going to talk about that. I’ve erased that. It’s a new year, a new everything. I don’t regret coming here at all,” Jones also stated. “This is the right place for me. We just had some unfortunate things happen to us this year.”
With the addition of Greg Knapp as Seattle’s new offensive coordinator, Jones will get plenty of chances to shine. Knapp loves to run the ball, while the offensive coordinator in Atlanta from 2004-2006, the Falcons led the NFL in rushing for three seasons.
In 2006 the Falcons produced two 1,000 yard rushers. Last year Knapp directed the Raiders offense that ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing.
Jones is ready to show the world that he’s more than capable of being the running back that Seattle envisioned when they signed as a free agent in 2008. Seattle will look to punish opponents with a powerful running game featuring Jones and Duckett. “Downhill and off to the races,” Jones said. “That definitely fits my style of running a little bit better.”
Knapp will most likely start the season with Jones and Duckett sharing the running back duties. “The game has gotten so physical. The defense has gotten so strong and fast, it’s hard for one back to carry the load.”
Duckett listed at 254 pounds, will most likely get the majority of goal line carries. Duckett rushed for eight touchdowns last season and scored 31 times for the Falcons in four seasons but only averaged 2.8 yards per carry.
Seattle definitely has all the right pieces in place to compete for the NFC West title this year, after a disappointing 4-12 campaign in 2008, expectations are high. If Seattle can stay away from the injury bug and develop a successful running game, Seattle fans will have plenty to cheer about come playoff time.