Seahawks Offseason Profile: Rashaad Penny
Following a disappointing rookie campaign, the Seahawks were hoping running back Rashaad Penny would find his groove in 2019.
Paired with teammate Chris Carson, Seattle utilized Penny in a backup role throughout the majority of the season. However, a season-ending knee injury cut the second-year pro’s campaign short, leaving his status uncertain for next season.
Let’s revisit some of the good and the bad from Penny’s sophomore NFL season, along with a prediction of how next season may play out for him as he enters his third year in the league.
What Went Right
Despite remaining behind Carson on Seattle’s depth chart, Penny was still able to be productive during his limited playing time, especially before going down with a torn ACL.
During this past season, the San Diego State product played in 10 games and rushed 65 times for 370 yards, the most among all running backs with 70 or fewer rushing attempts. He also rushed for a trio of touchdowns, including a 58-yard score against Philadelphia.
Along with increasing his scoring production, the 5-foot-11 running back also improved his yards per carry rate by 0.8 yards. In addition, he finished tied with the 22nd-most carries for 20 yards or more among all running backs in the league, according to NFL.com.
As a receiver, Penny received just 11 targets but produced eight catches for 83 yards and caught his first career touchdown reception as well. Similar to his yards per carry rate, the former first-round selection also increased his yards per catch rate by 2.1 yards during this past season.
Even though Penny received 20 fewer rushing attempts during his second season in the league, he made up for the lack of playing time by being more effective after contact.
In total, Penny recorded 184 yards after contact and he generated five broken tackles. In comparison, his yards after contact metric ranked second-highest and he finished tied with the ninth-most broken tackles among all running backs with 70 rushing attempts or fewer.
What Went Wrong
While Penny was effective in the trenches, he struggled to stay healthy and on the field in 2019.
After he missed two games with a knee strain in 2018, Seattle’s young running back missed three games due to a hamstring injury along with the final three games of the regular season after injuring his knee in Week 14.
After missing three games in a four week span, the Seahawks provided Penny with just two snaps during their Week 7 matchup against the Ravens. So for close to a month, he was basically a non-factor in their offense and played the invisible man card most of the first half of the season.
Along with these injuries, Penny also struggled to receive consistent playing time in Seattle’s run-first offense this past season. Through his first seven games of the season, he played just 18 percent of the overall snaps on offense, failing to carve out much of a role behind Carson.
During that span, the former Aztecs standout rushed 36 times for just 167 yards and he found the end zone just once. Furthermore, he also caught just three passes for 34 yards and lost a fumble against the 49ers in Week 10.
Despite Carson’s own ball security woes, Penny still played just 33 percent of Seattle's offensive snaps, though he did prove to be productive, amassing 203 rushing yards, 33 receiving yards, two rushing touchdowns, and one receiving touchdown in Week 12 and Week 13.
Heading into next season, there’s no guarantee that Penny will be ready for Week 1. Since he's a candidate for the PUP list, there's a very good chance that the Seahawks will add at least one running back to the fold this offseason.
With Travis Homer and Carson already on Seattle’s roster, Penny could be forgotten if he misses a significant part of the 2020 campaign.
In comparison to Penny’s first two seasons in the league, there have been 15 running backs who have received at least 150 rushing attempts and have produced at least 17 receptions, exactly five rushing touchdowns, at least one receiving touchdown, and 1,000 rushing yards or fewer through their first two seasons in the NFL.
Among the names listed above, only Tommy Mason, Tony Lorick, Austin Ekeler, Kenyan Drake, and John David Crow recorded at least 300 rushing yards and 80 receiving yards during their third season in the league.
While it’s possible for Penny to at least replicate his production from this past season, it appears the length of his rehab will likely play a big factor in how his 2020 campaign plays out. If he’s healthy before the end of September, then his chances of having an impactful season would likely increase, positioning himself for a chance at a bigger role behind Carson.