Seahawks team president Tim Ruskell became familiar with Duckett's work in 2004, when he served as Atlanta's assistant general manager. Duckett ran 104 times for 509 yards and eight touchdowns in that season. Future Seahawks head coach Jim Mora presided over that productive triumvirate, and he knows Duckett as well as anyone.
Duckett was traded to Washington in August of 2006, and he wasn't a great fit in Joe Gibbs' offense. He only saw 38 rushing attempts for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Washington finished 5-11 and Duckett voided the last year of his two-year contract.
He signed with the Detroit Lions before the 2007 and saw a bit of a career resurgence, amassing his best yards per carry average (5.2). In his career, Duckett has rushed 655 times for 2,642 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Besides Ruskell's and Mora's familiarity with his work, there
is one very obvious reason for Seattle's interest in the 254-pound power back.
In 2007, the Seahawks ranked 26th in third-down conversions with a terrible 35.0 percent conversion rate. In the postseason, that fell to 22.7 percent. No Seattle running back could convert third downs reliably, but in 65 carries for the Detroit Lions in 2007, Duckett created 16 first downs. Shaun Alexander, who racked up 107 first downs in his 2005 MVP season, could only create 37 last year on 207 carries. Duckett may not be a versatile back, but he does one thing the Seahawks desperately need -- he can pound the line and keep drives going.
Duckett put up his career-best yardage game against Kansas City on December 23, 2007 with 102 yards on only 15 carries. The Lions beat the Chiefs, 25-20, in Duckett's second to last game with Detroit. He had this to say after the game.
On what the victory meant: "It's huge - just to get
back on track. We've had a rough last six weeks, and we just wanted to focus
on fundamentals and just focus on doing what we could just to improve ourselves
and get over the mistakes we were making, the mental errors, and just make plays."
On being the feature back for most of the day: "Football is a sport where, if a player gets hurt, someone else comes in and has to play. That's why you prepare, that's why you train the way you do. I think the whole team just came out, and we didn't blink. We just played hard and played to the end."
On what the year has been like: "It's been a blessing: just the opportunity to play football, to be back in the state of Michigan. Of course we wanted to win more games, we had big expectations this year. So that was disappointing, but just to be able to have the opportunity to play football is a blessing."
On the team's mood after the win: "It's been a while since we've won. It feels good to win at home and make the city of Detroit proud. We've got a big one next week. Finish the year out strong."
On his touchdown: "The offensive line did an unbelievable job today. Coach Colletto just - we had a very good game plan, and coach Martz called some great plays, and the line just opened up opportunities and running lanes. All of us backs, we just jumped in on them. All credit goes to the guys up front, getting a good push, and just giving us opportunities to run."
He'll have opportunities
to run in Seattle; of that there is little doubt.
Michael David Smith of Football Outsiders, AOL and Pro Football Talk is a longtime Lions fan. He had this to say about Mr. Duckett:
Duckett played very
well in the Mike Martz offense. Although he's known as a 250-pound bruiser,
I was impressed with his quickness as well as his power. He showed good vision
for finding holes and was faster in the open field than I had expected him to
be. I don't think Duckett is ever going to be a 20-carry-a-game featured back,
but for five or 10 carries a game, I like him a lot.
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET, a staff writer for Football Outsiders, and he writes NFL previews for the New York Sun. Feel free to e-mail Doug here.