Dirty Bird Daily: Why the Atlanta Falcons shouldn’t fear Thomas Rawls


If you’ve encountered any Seahawks ‘bandwagoners’ this week, they’ve probably told you that the Atlanta Falcons (apparently) won’t stop Thomas Rawls. Wrong!

Thomas Rawls could’ve ran for 300 yards against Detroit and it doesn’t change the fact Seattle is a putrid rushing team. Rawls’ 161-yard day last Saturday was only the third time all season that a Seahawk hit the century rushing mark. Christine Michael ran for 106 yards in Week 3 and Rawls ran for 106 in Week 13. Seattle literally went 10-straight regular season games without a legit running game.

Rawls averaged about 1.5 yards per carry over Seattle’s final three games

There’s much to respect about Thomas Rawls, but the Falcons aren’t dealing with Shaun Alexander on Saturday. Rawls averaged about 1.5 yards per carry over Seattle’s final three games of 2016. That’s 1.5 yards against the Rams, Cardinals, and 49ers; of which he saw 37 total carries. Suffice to say, last week’s monster rushing performance is what Vincent Vega would refer to as, “…a freak occurrence”.

Seattle was able to beat up Detroit on the ground out of the I-formation and behind zone blocking. An ESPN article by Sheil Kapadia does an excellent job breaking it all down, to include explaining the role of Seattle’s fullback. It would too easy to assume the same approach works on Saturday, except the Falcons typical strike early. The first half of Week 17 was essentially a summary of what we’ve seen all season. Atlanta scores a lot of touchdowns early and forces opponents to play catch-up.

Related Story: Just how bad has Seattle been on the road this year?

The Saints had every intention of establishing the run early, but playing from behind forced Drew Brees to put the ball in the air. It wasn’t until “garbage time” that Mark Ingram was able to top the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season.

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Rawls was originally billed by some as “Beast Mode Junior” but hasn’t shown the consistency or durability of his predecessor. I remember the Seahawks wasting no time in wishing Marshawn Lynch a “happy retirement” after last season. Lynch was instrumental to their climb from obscurity, but he was older and more expensive than Rawls.

What little confidence the Seahawks have in Rawls is likely gone after Saturday. Atlanta boasts a rush defense that ranks near the middle of the NFL, but the offense won’t allow Seattle to play “ground and pound”. Detroit’s defense looked aged and sluggish last Saturday. Atlanta’s young and hungry defense won’t be quite as easy for the Seahawks to run through.

I like the Falcons to continue doing what they do best in getting an early lead and forcing Russell Wilson to play catch-up through the air. I also expect Seattle to enter the 2017 NFL Draft looking for a marquee running back.

Next: Bold prediction for the Atlanta Falcons playoff trip