Boling:Forsett looks like he needs a press pass, but he knows how to run
DAVE BOLING; THE NEWS TRIBUNE
ST. LOUIS — Justin Forsett swears this is a true story.
When telling a stranger once that he was with the Seattle Seahawks, the person looked at the 5-foot-8 Forsett and indelicately asked: “Are you the equipment manager?”
Actually, Forsett would be the shortest of the team’s equipment managers, so the stranger’s confusion is somewhat understandable.
But anyone still paying attention to this team’s season knows that the second-year back has been a recent bright spot as a fill-in for injured starter Julius Jones.
Sunday, Forsett carried the Seahawks to a 27-17 win over St. Louis, slithering through the Rams for 130 yards on 22 attempts. That’s a better statistical performance than the Rams’ studly 236-pound Steven Jackson (23-89).
And his 22 rushes accounted for more yardage than the Seahawks’ 25 passing attempts (102 yards).
“Sometimes he gets in there and disappears for a little bit and then he pops out,” said Seahawks receiver Nate Burleson. “It’s good that he’s little and strong.”
Yes, Forsett, at 194 pounds, is freakishly strong. He’s bench pressed 395 pounds, and at the scouting combine, he did 26 repetitions of 225 pounds.
That’s more than some offensive linemen, and was the same number as the mark of Seahawks’ fullback Owen Schmitt, who is 53 pounds heavier than Forsett.
Forsett is a humble and soft-spoken Texan, so he naturally attributed his success on Sunday to the offensive line.
But the offensive line tosses the compliments back to Forsett. After all, when the back is elusive enough to sneak through a small hole, or make an unblocked defender miss, it’s a boost for the guys up front.
“He’s so quick,” said tackle Sean Locklear. “His stop and go is probably one of the best in the league. He’ll get in the hole, stop and freeze you, and then he’ll be back up to speed in two or three steps. A lot of the time, everything can be blocked right, but there’s still somebody unblocked. He can make that guy miss; he sometimes makes two or three of them miss.”
When the Seahawks went for it on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter, it was Forsett who slammed through for an 11-yard gain.
He broke one run for 26 yards, another for 25. And he’s now within seven yards of Jones on the team’s season totals, despite having 40 fewer carries.
And he’s also fourth on the receiving list with 29 catches.
“He’s done a great job,” said Kasey Dunn, running backs coach. “He’s good in (pass) protection and he’s been great in our passing game, too, so we’re happy with what he’s done in the absence of Julius.”
The Hawks considered having Jones (chest injury) active for the game, but when he warmed up at the stadium Sunday morning, he still was experiencing pain.
It created another opportunity for Forsett, who may be getting harder and harder to dislodge.
“It was definitely fun, and it was a blessing just to get an opportunity,” Forsett said. “Anytime I get an opportunity to start, it’s a dream of mine.”
The team’s inconsistent rushing game causes coach Jim Mora to smack himself on the forehead. Seriously. He did that when answering a question about it after the game.
“It’s frustrating for me even when we have success,” Mora said. “We’re struggling and striving to find some consistency.”
Last week, against Minnesota, the Hawks rushed for a total of 4 yards. Against St. Louis on Sunday, the total was 170.
“When you have success, you get (hits self on forehead) ... why can’t we do that every week? What it shows you is that we are capable, we are on the right track.”
Forsett acknowledged the “ups and downs” of the Seahawk running game, but said that Sunday’s “up” was welcomed.
“For our coaches and the offensive line and everybody, it was really nice,” he said. “We put in a lot of time and effort into this, so it feels good to get some payoff. We work hard at it every week, and this gives you something to help you keep your head up.”
Frankly, the Rams are a disaster. They’re 1-10 and came in with the 28th-ranked rush defense in the NFL. So, that has to be considered before gushing too much about the Seahawks’ impressive rushing statistics.
But Forsett has put together enough of a resume this season to have proven himself as being more than just a little change-of-pace replacement in this offense.
He may look like an equipment manager, but he’s turning into the most exciting offensive player they’ve got.