On November 19, it was determined that Chris Carson would have to undergo season-ending neck surgery. Since Carson's first missed game in Week 5, Seahawks running backs have ranked in the bottom-third of the league in combined yards per carry (3.8).
This ineffective attack has primarily been led by veteran Alex Collins, who's set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end. Therefore, with Seattle sitting at a record of 3-7 and unlikely to sneak its way into the postseason, handing the ball off—both metaphorically and literally—to a potential long-term solution would be in the team's best interest.
Enter DeeJay Dallas.
Just a little over halfway through his second career year in the NFL, Dallas has only seen consistent playing time on special teams. He's been on the field for just 61 offensive snaps all year long, but in those limited opportunities, he's given the Seahawks some solid production.
On 14 carries this year, Dallas has tallied 60 yards (4.3 per carry) and one touchdown. He's also caught nine of 10 targets for 72 yards out of the backfield.
That lone touchdown came this past Sunday, serving as one of the Seahawks' few silver linings in an otherwise disastrous 23-13 loss to the Cardinals. Aside from Dallas' scoring drive, the offense was completely stagnant. In all, it went 1-for-3 in the red zone and 2-for-11 on third and fourth down attempts.
Dallas, however, provided a spark when his number was called. Trailing 16-6 with less than 10 minutes to go on the game clock, Russell Wilson connected with Tyler Lockett on a 48-yard pass down to the Arizona 26. It was Dallas' show from there, eating up seven yards on his first rush attempt of the drive and setting up a 3rd and 1 with a two-yard reception the next play.
Needing just a yard to move the sticks, Dallas instead powered his way down to the goal line on an explosive 15-yard carry. Taking the handoff out of shotgun, he bounced his path to the outside, delivered a nasty stiff-arm to linebacker Isaiah Simmons and was finally forced out of bounds by cornerback Robert Alford. Then, he finished the job with a two-yard push up the gut to give Seattle's offense its first touchdown since October 31.
As the team prepares for a Monday night bout with Washington this week, Dallas was the only running back absent from Thursday's injury report. Rashaad Penny (hamstring) was listed as a non-participant, while Travis Homer (calf) and Collins (abdomen) were limited. This would seem to bode well for Dallas in his quest for more playing time.
Dallas started two games in his rookie season, coming against the Bills and 49ers. He recorded three total touchdowns in that time—two on the ground, one receiving—with 72 yards on 25 carries, along with seven catches for 25 yards. While those numbers aren't necessarily striking, the Seahawks would happily take that over what they've received from their backfield as of late.
Against the Steelers in Week 6, Collins notched the team's lone individual 100-yard rushing performance of the year. But after suffering hip and glute injuries during that same game, he's posted just 136 yards on 46 touches (3.3 average) and no touchdowns in his last four outings.
Taking Collins' health, impending free agent status and recent lack of production into account, there's no legitimate reason for Seattle to continue forcing the issue with him.
Of course, Dallas might not be the answer the Seahawks are searching for either. But unlike with Collins, they don't know that yet, and there's only one way to find out: by playing him.
In the position they're currently in, the only thing the Seahawks can lose is precious time to develop players like Dallas and collect valuable data before heading into the offseason.