BY Art Thiel 07:33PM 01/10/2017

Thiel: Seahawks’ Reece: New Mike Robinson?

At 31, Marcel Reece was thrilled to experience his first playoff game Saturday, helping the Seahawks to 177 rushing yards as the closest thing yet to former ace fullback Michael Robinson.

Thomas Rawls found some space Saturday against the Lions, thanks in part to FB Marcel Reece (44). / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Listening to Seahawks FB Marcel Reece talk about his Saturday at the Clink, the experience was akin to that of a six-year-old receiving a pony for Christmas. The joy and gratitude set off tsunami warning signals.

“Reality was much better than my expectations,” Reece said of the 26-6 wild-card playoff triumph over Detroit. “Yes, it is just another football game. But it was the most exciting football game I’ve probably been a part of. It was a combination of my first playoff, the playoff win, the team playing lights out and the crowd roaring . . .

“After the game on the field, (QB Russell Wilson) gave me the game ball.”

On the birthday of Reece’s mother, no less.

“I was thinking about giving the football to my mom,” Reece said. “But it’s going in the man cave.”

The reaction of a 31-year-old who had one carry for zero yards and one catch for five yards may seem a tad overwrought. But as a native of the small town of Hesperia, in California’s Mojave Desert, Reece may have a deeper notion than most of the concept of oasis.

Until his free-agent signing by the Seahawks Dec. 6, Reece spent his eight-year pro career in Oakland, where the Raiders not only didn’t make the playoffs, they didn’t have a winning season, and went through six head coaches. Before that, he spent 2006 (5-7) and 2007 (4-9) at the University of Washington under coach Tyrone Willingham, graduating just ahead of the 0-12 debacle. Before that, he was in two junior colleges in two years.

So yes, Saturday for Reece was a big freakin’ deal.

“After that experience, I never want to not go to the playoffs again,” he said. Good as the day was, the month in Seattle has been better.

“I’ve been on nine different teams, and this team is different than any other I’ve been a part of,” he said. “The locker room changes every year in the NFL, that’s just the nature of the business. This is an amazing locker room. It’s hard to put into words.

“A guy like me — four-time Pro Bowler, nine-year veteran, 31 years old — comes to a defense-dominant team late in the year . . . you don’t know what to expect. It’s a great feeling to be accepted.”

Acceptance turned to celebration Saturday because the Seahawks gained 177 yards rushing, 161 by RB Thomas Rawls. Part of the reason was heavy use of the I-formation featuring lead blocker Reece.

“Be the big brother and do the dirty work — that’s what it’s all about,” he said, still smiling. Seahawks fans should be smiling too. The offense looked a lot more like the glory days when RB Marshawn Lynch, in the I-formation, was preceded through the offensive line by FB Michael Robinson, an under-appreciated but valuable asset on the Super Bowl-winning team.

“It’s kind of the same things we’d get out of Mike Rob when he was here,” said line coach Tom Cable. “It makes the game normal for us — that’s what we’ve been chasing.

“I think they’re different players. Marcel is much better at the perimeter, catching the ball and running with the ball. Understanding the system? Absolutely, probably equals. Mike might be a little more bullish at contact.”

Coach Pete Carroll said Reece is a more complete player than most of the Seahawks fullbacks between Robinson and Reece, a 6-1, 235-pounder.

“It’s the spread of offense, you can do a little bit of everything if you have all of the tools,” he said. “Marcel allows you to run him a couple different (personnel groupings). We used three different personnels with him in the game.

“He’s very versatile and very smart. We’re not restricted in any way with the kinds of things we like to do when he’s playing for us.”

Reece sat out the first three weeks of the season while suspended for use of performance enhancing drugs. Upon his return, Reece injured a knee in a game in late September and was released by the Raiders.

He was summoned for workouts by the Patriots, Bengals and Jets, and either he wasn’t healthy or he didn’t like the set-up. But with the Seahawks burning through running backs, a healthier Reece impressed in early December.

He already had someone on the inside with Cable, who was one of his head coaches in Oakland, when Reece, under orders from owner Al Davis, was switched from wide receiver to running back.

“As a former wide receiver, he wasn’t afraid of it,” Cable said. “He didn’t really have a fear factor. That’s really unique, that transition. You can take a D-lineman to an O-lineman, or tight end, or whatever it is. But usually, a wide receiver to fullback, you’d say you’re crazy. But it worked. He’s been really good for awhile.”

He was really good Saturday. The trick will be to sustain it a second time Saturday in Atlanta (1:35 p.m., FOX), where there will be no ponies at Christmas. Just much dirty work for the big brother.

 


YourThoughts

  • 1coolguy

    Hey Art, did you read my post at yesterday’s SNW article “PROSISE RETURNS TO SEAHAWKS PRACTICE; REECE IFFY”?
    Great minds think alike, eh?

    • Pixdawg13

      Approaching time to think seriously about JR3.

      • wabubba67

        I’ll take Kevin King late in the first round to play opposite Sherman.

  • Effzee

    If having a FB is what makes the offense go, then hooray for Reece! We now have *all* of the former highly-touted UW receivers from the Dark Era. Funny.

    Also, I listened to some Pete Carroll yesterday. He talked about the weapons on offense and how many cool things it will allow you to do, and I started to get sick, thinking “Dude… Don’t you even dare go back to opening up the offense this week and abandoning the run again just because you have more toys…”

    Then I went back to him saying that Bevell loves to run the ball, and something dawned on me. I came up with this idea earlier in the season, but then abandoned it. (Ha! Do you see what I did there?) This might seriously be a mastermind by confusion sort of thing. I always wondered how good of an offensive mind Pete is, because a lot of head coaches let their opposite-minded coordinator run their own part of the team. But I think he is smarter than I realized.

    Being a defensive guy, he helped build the one kind of offense that would give him nightmares: Play-makers at every position, and total unpredictability. They may have called so many dang plays during the regular season specifically to give coaches in the playoffs that much more to prepare for. The whole insane, loop-de-doo play-calling may not have made sense at the time, but it got the games won, they got the young guys some game experience, and we gave the other coaches a boatload of late nights studying film. That’s the difference between Carroll/Belichick type of coaches, and the other guys: The ability to observe and process big-picture in real-time, more often than not.

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  • DJ

    Nice piece! Here I’ve been complaining about not having a lead blocker – it’s because they didn’t have the right personnel! Tukuafu has been injured, but he wasn’t used all that often maybe because of his size and skill set. Saturday is going to be quite telling about the future possibilities – what this team is really capable of, if they can sustain the run and add Prosise to an already formidable receiving corp. All these “toys” will just enable each other. Would also like to see Russ get a chance to shine throwing the ball and quell the poor stat criticism he’s gotten for the earlier part of the season.

  • Comrade C-attle

    Carroll does a really good job of getting marginal players to play above their potential. Lou Pinella was like that with the Mariners years ago. Same with George Karl. That’s what separates great coaches from average coaches.

  • Jamo57

    Reece looks like a great pick up and it sounds like both sides might be interested in bringing him back next year. Hopefully he’s not at that age where durability becomes an issue. Signs may indicate he is though.

    Yeah, Michael Robinson was a really important piece of the Super Bowl team. Perhaps his most important role was as Beast Mode Whisperer. I miss both of those guys.

  • It’s only Sports

    It is probably an apt comparison with similar paths. Robinson was also a bay area player with the 49ers. Mike~Rob was loved for that intangible he brought to the running game and I think Reese has an excellent chance of carving out his niche here too. At 31 he could play about 3 seasons here like Robinson.
    If he can stay healthy he sure adds value to the club. Excellent fit.
    Go Hawks!