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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

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March 8, 2008 10:41 AM

Julius Jones chooses the fast track

Posted by Danny O'Neil

Julius Jones probably could have gotten more money if he chose somewhere other than Seattle to play. I've heard Detroit may have been interested in ponying up a little more.

But Jones chose to play in Seattle, reaching agreement on a contract that isn't the kind of top-tier free-agent deal that Michael Turner got to go to Atlanta. ESPN's John Clayton reported it's a four-year deal that will average about $3 million.

So what was attractive about Seattle? Well, we'll hear from him soon enough I'm sure, but in the meantime consider these quotes from January 2007, the week before the Cowboys played the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs.

"I like playing on that field," Jones said. "It's a great atmosphere to play in. It's rowdy up there. The crowd is going to be into it."

He rushed for 198 yards in Seattle during a Monday night game in 2004, and he said he felt the field itself was a fast track.

"It's a great field," Jones said in January 2007. "They have really good field turf. Best field turf out there, I think. It's just a fast track."

Jones gained 112 yards on 22 carries in that playoff game, which the Seahawks won 21-20.

Now, it's silly to think the Seahawks went after this player simply because of a couple good games he played at Qwest Field. But it's something to consider. Jones has eight games in which he has rushed for more than 100 yards in his four years. Two of those were in Seattle. Here's the break down of his averages in the two games at Qwest Field (he missed the Cowboys 2005 regular-season game in Seattle). The stats include Dallas' two playoff games.

  At Qwest Field All other games
Games 2 53
Rush yds. per game 155 62.2
Rush yds. per carry 6.2 3.8

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Posted by Mac

11:49 AM, Mar 08, 2008

That fast track Jones had so much success on is being replaced.

Posted by BGR

12:10 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Did someone tell him that he won't be rushing against the Seahawks defense when he plays at Qwest? Those games in which he was so successful are games in which the Seahawks were falling apart (04) and missing Tubbs (07).

I don't even know what to think of this analysis, to use the term loosely.

Posted by Ken

3:17 PM, Mar 08, 2008

HMMMM what about this much against the cap? how much is due to incentives? 3 mill against the cap would be a bit steep for a back of his faltering talent. Don't give up on Shaun yet, he will prove his doubters wrong.

Posted by uglyskier

3:28 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Quit hammering on the guy, lets see what he can do for the hawks, we all know they need help. I thinks it's get that a guy is wanting to play for the game rather than the money.

Posted by Hawksforlife

4:29 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Man there is SOOO much negativity about Ruskell and these signings. I am embarrassed to be Hawk fans with you people (those who are SOO negative).

Last time I checked Jones was 26 years old and played usually the first three quarters for Dallas before being replaced by FRESH legs and Marian Barber in the fourth against a tired opponent defense.

Plus did ANY of you nay sayers think about how a change of scenery for a guy might get him back on the right track. We know what Jones can do...he's five years younger than Shaun and is faster and that is a fricken fact.

So for those who are all negative about the team and don't think we're gonna do anything this year, go crawl back in your holes and cry because i'll be the first guy to say I told you so when Julius Jones and TJ Duckett roll into the endzone and we start scoring TD's on the ground. And you call yourself fans?!

Come on Seattle, I've always stuck up for our fans but man oh man, you don't knock on a player before you see how he performs in a new environment! Hawks all the way in 2008 baby! Where can I buy a Juluis and TJ jersey...maybe I can trade in my Alexander one?

Note: this message is not for the fans who think these signings will help our team.

Posted by Seahawk 1

5:24 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Jones is younger,Faster,and cheaper than Shaun we are the best fans in the NFL lets stand by him.Now let get a TE a Kicker and groom a back. on the way to Super Bowl 43 GO Hawks. Welcome to Seattle Juluis.

Posted by Hawksforlife

5:44 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Seahawk 1: That's exactly what I'm saying. Lets show him WHY we are the greatest fans in the NFL instead of ripping him 6 months before the season.

I know personally I'll be happy that he's running with us instead of against us. Here's to the new younger blood in the backfield. GO HAWKS! I can't wait!

Posted by drmaub

5:49 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Sounds like some negadawgs have morphed into negahawks.......fully understanding in a transition yeat from our (sometime) bevolved Mike Holgrom to a fully realized Ruskell regime there will be somegnashing of teeth, let's just give our (apparently)new multi-running back approach some time and see what it can produce. Unless Mendenhall somehow falls to us, I'm of the opinion we would e best served finding an future replacement for Walt or a tight end more than an RB in the first round.

Posted by chewy

8:22 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Anything is better than what we got now. Bye Bye Shaun.

Posted by thewaspfactory

10:11 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Subject: LB Caleb Miller comming to Seattle

is the above possible addition in light of our 'big-hitters' gone form the special teams?

Koutovides, Scobey (injury), Wilson (injury), Bentley, etc.... the talent loss from special teams is actually one of my biggest concerns. any comment on the situation?

Posted by Hawk Fan 4 Ever

10:03 AM, Mar 09, 2008

Well I think it will be good just for the sake or competition. Perhaps Shawn needs to be pushed, so does Weaver, well even Jones and Duckett need to be pushed. This isn't a bad thing, but a GREAT thing. We need the guys that are going to practice hard, play hard, and finish the game strong. Many NFL team run my commity now, perhaps after last year, we know that we need more (as in better).

Posted by Oscar

11:10 AM, Mar 09, 2008

Call it in the air...
Jewels (aka Julius Jones) is a hard, fast runner, is a viable option to catch the ball out of the backfield, has been healthy the past two years, and picks up the blitz more often than not. Oh, and I don't remember any me, me, me moments on National Television.
Alexander the not-so-great, runs soft at best, has lost a step, (or two or three) has never been much of a receiver, has been injury prone for the past two seasons, falls down in the face of the blitz, (maybe I can trip one up as he runs over me) and do I need to remind anybody about the whimpering extravaganza in 2004 when he narrowly missed the rushing title and then whined about it no national TV?
Football is a team sport, the team is moving in the right direction, SA will be left by the wayside...

Posted by Oscar

11:19 AM, Mar 09, 2008

Oh yeah, and for the record, the 'Hawks won the toss...

Posted by azhawk19

11:22 AM, Mar 09, 2008

I can only assume that they are trying to generate some competition at the position as well as have insurance should one of the backs get hurt as SA did last year. Money wise I assume some gets cut or they need to negotiate some changes with a player or players over $. I'm willing to see what develops as we enter mini camps and so on before passing to much judgement on the moves. Go Hawks

Posted by AZ Hawk

3:11 PM, Mar 09, 2008

I think this puts more pressure on SA to redo his contract. We have potential replacements for him. He'd be better off redoing the contract vs. getting cut.

Posted by T-Hast12

3:28 PM, Mar 09, 2008

This topic is serving as a great filter for fan opinions. Anybody who thinks J.Jones runs harder than Shaun is obviously not a football fan and can be ignored. He can catch and block, and in a timeshare with Duckett that might work, but Jones is one of the worst short yardage backs in history.

Posted by bigmaq

4:57 PM, Mar 09, 2008

As SA is no longer "starter" material, the Hawks now have six back-ups on the roster. Did I miss the analysis which explains how all these lemons become lemonade? Where is the feature back? Oh that's right he's still doing 225lb reps at the combine. Why not spend a draft pick along with the $15 million of cap space on one of the more fungible positions in football. After a half dozen premier backs in the league the rest are all interchangeable meaning their success depends more on the O Line, the passing threat, the system and injuries and less on any talent differential - as the Denver Broncos can attest over the past 10 yrs. Even Alexander was "all world" when the "system" worked for him and barely pedestrian when the system was no longer clicking. Now if all of this had been for a top-flight interior lineman on either side say tackle, center, nose tackle or even a guard (the journeyman Wahle does not qualify - if he did, in the era of paying big bucks to guards, he would not be earning chump change if he was top notch - either that or he should immediately fire his agent) this could be something to feel good about.

Posted by Ziasudra

6:16 PM, Mar 09, 2008

Bigmac/g - since when is a pro-bowler (Wahle) a journeyman? Get over the Hutchinson thing - he was an egocentric (traitor) who wanted to be paid more than anyone else (esp. Jones). I'm glad he missed the extra paychecks from the playoffs. . . .

T-Hast12 - who said Jones was going to be the 3rd and 1 back in the first place? Are you going to cut Hasselback because he isn't 3rd and 1 either? Or Bobby Engram? You sound stupid. . .
(I'm getting bored; why else would I bother. . . )

Posted by IShawnM

6:56 PM, Mar 09, 2008

Other than Alexander's getting hurt the past two seasons (which affected his productivity: DUH!!!), what is the single biggest reason the running game has suffered folks? It is obvious that many of you dumping on Alexander do not get it so I will tell you: the offensive line and the fullback spot.

The offensive line suffered from the loss of Hutch after the 2005 season and the running game in 2006 suffered from Alexander missing a good chunk of the season and Morris showing he was not capable of picking up the slack. Last year Alexander played with a broken wrist and also a sprained knee -as someone who had knee problems myself in years past let me tell you it makes it damn hard to run. And losing Mack Strong at fullback did not help either as Alexander would be the first to tell you that Strong's ability to block was generally under appreciated. (Not to knock Weaver but he is not Strong -though I am sure he will have a better year this year after getting thrown to the wolves when Mack had to retire after the injury in the Steelers game.)

None of this is to say that the other signings of Duckett and Jones are not good -heck with Duckett we have a short yardage specialist which saves on running back wear and tear. And with Jones, we have another solid runner and someone who could compete for the starting job with Alexander. But more importantly are the signings for the offensive line -a Pro Bowl guard to play alongside Walter Jones, re-signing Locklear, and getting a competent tight end in Putzier.

But do not rule out Alexander yet. He was not the league MVP in 2005 by accident and he had a solid offensive line and an experienced fullback which helped him both that year and in previous years where he was highly productive because (guess what?) running backs not named Barry Sanders need that stuff to be good.

The offensive line was lessened in 2006 with the loss of Hutchinson and was weaker still last year due to the retirement of center Robbie Tobeck and injuries to key players (such as left tackle Walter Jones and new center Chris Spenser) and also age (read: 37 year old Chris Gray at right guard). The signing of former two time Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle will be a marked improvement over what we have had the past two years. The addition of competent tight end Jeb Putzier will also help in an area which has been a problem since Jerramy Stevens forgot how to catch the ball in 2006 and Marcus Pollard did not pan in 2007.

There are a lot of factors here and it is not because Alexander suddenly became crappy. He may not be the player he was in 2005 (age has a way with all of us to some extent) but he can still be plenty good if he can have a productive recovery in the offseason and stay healthy. And with Jones on the team along with Duckett for hard grinding short yardage stuff, we will not have to worry about Alexander having to carry the full load this year if he stays on the team and is given a chance to compete for the starting spot.

I like the idea of Jones pushing Alexander and there are two possibilities here if Alexander stays, either he wins the starting spot and Jones backs him up or Jones starts and Alexander plays backup. If Alexander starts, we have a solid starter at backup in Jones who at 26 has youth on his side. And even if Jones were to earn the starting spot, who would you prefer at backup: a former (and possibly future) monster yardage guy and MVP (Alexander) or a guy who cannot cut it as a starter and anything more than a spot runner (Maurice Morris)?

With Duckett for short yardage situations and some fullback duties, I would say aloha to Morris and give Alexander a chance to prove wrong all the morons who blame him for the non-existing running game last year instead of looking at the big picture. And not just because of the money he will have to be paid anyway. Having Jones there will push Alexander in a way that Morris could not because (unlike Morris) Jones is a quality running back and potential full time starter.

I am liking thus far what I am seeing in the moves made by the Hawks in this off season!

Posted by Patrick F.

8:46 PM, Mar 09, 2008

I completely agree with ShawnIM. I think the O-Line was terrible last season, and I would like to see Alexander given another chance.

I think the Putzier signing is going to be the best acquisition of the offseason.

I wasn't impressed with Jones, in Dallas, but you guys are right, he does deserve a chance to shine before we totally dog him. Maybe the Hawks management sees something in him that the rest of us don't. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Hawks do in the draft.

Posted by Oscar

10:03 PM, Mar 09, 2008

T-Hast 12...
Let me clarify my statement, I have never seen Jewles run through a gapeing hole into the secondary, only to start going to the ground as he sees that he is about to get hit. In my humble opinion, that qualifies as "running harder than Alexander".
So does not getting stuffed in the backfield with his back to the offensive line... How many times have you seen this from Alexander?

Posted by trippsixxes

12:06 AM, Mar 10, 2008

I'm really looking forward to BigMaq's commentary following the draft this year.

I can't wait to hear if we truly did focus on the "fungible" positions.

Posted by Keith C

7:58 AM, Mar 10, 2008

Look for Seattle to get what we rarely ever see...Jones will bust out some 96 yard td rushes when we are trapped on the 4 yard line. Won't be as good as shaun in the redzone, but maybe duckett will be.

Jones is a good back. I am glad we have a guy with experience and who is young. Now that he can hide up in the northwest, maybe he'll feel less pressure and play better. Either way, He will produce yards in a time where the Seahawks really need a running game.

Posted by free beer

9:52 AM, Mar 10, 2008

Reading the article about Shaun this mornings paper, kind of makes one feel bad for the guy, but that's sports and that's why they get rich and I don't! Kind of loved my first car, but the time came to part our ways......aaaaah, the memories, Judy Babara Karen, the list is to Hugh to remember them all, sounds like lies huh?

Posted by 12thmanforlife

12:18 PM, Mar 10, 2008

This is to all those Shaun Haters and the ones who think Julius will be an upgrade and to the ONE who says he is embarrassed to be a fan:

Where is your respect for the best running back in our teams history? A man who, for 5 years straight, averaged 1500 yards and 20 td's a season. Averaged! Thats hall of fame numbers if you ask me. What has Julius done that would make you think he is any better than Shaun? And if you think you are a fan because you support Julius, but trash a guy who helped make this franchise what it is today then you have no idea what it means to be a fan. If you are the best fans in the world then stand by the guy who got you there.

Posted by Keith C

12:28 PM, Mar 10, 2008

I love Shaun Alexander, it is truely sad that his record gotten broken so quickly. The thing is, great back aren't as touch to find right now...Look around the league there are plenty of people causing a buzz...before all you would hear about was sanders and smith.

Jones will not be "better" than Shaun. But how are people so blind to say jones is a terrible back. He is a great back and a great addition. He will pick up where the seahawks left off in 2005 before all of the injuries. He is younger too.

If anything Shaun stopped trying. in 2004 I said he would break the all time rushing yards record. Everyone told me he would get old and hurt and not break it. I keep believing. I watched in 05 and was amazed and told everyone he would do it, they also started to that guy is good. Then once everyone was on Shauns side, the money, the fans of the team, the fans of other teams, and the seahawks hater ESPN, he just shut down. We see glimpses of the old Shaun...but he just doesn't seem to have it. If there was a year to bounce back and for him to say, I can stay healthy in my older age, it would be this coming season behind a fresh line.

I hope he doesn't go and I hope he starts in the first game, but if he doesn't turn it around, we have the bandaids for a succesful season of running.

Posted by bigmaq

6:07 PM, Mar 10, 2008

Ziasudra - Show me the bargain in FA. If there is one truism it is that teams overpay, never underpay or FA in the NFL. If you believe otherwise, I have a ton on things in my garage you can buy. Three million is chump change for an O Line man. Just last Sunday the NYT highlighted the guards who are getting the big bucks $7-$8 million. Again, $3 million is journeyman wages either that or as I stated his agent will definitely be looking for another line of work. After a season or two this site will be lamenting Wahle as they now do Ashworth and Pollard and as they once did Winstrom. Until you can cite a rationale reason why Wahle came at a 60% discount that belies his top shelf qualities I will stand by this statement.

Posted by tacomaguy

2:32 PM, Mar 12, 2008

The only thing Alexander has proved over the past two years is that his ego is significantly larger than his heart. He quit on the team two years before it, apparantly, will be quitting on him.

I congratulate him on his success - now let's get on and play football!

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