C.J. Prosise is well aware of what people think of him and his time in Seattle. After three seasons of ailments nearly bordering on dark comedy, it has seemed that he and the Seahawks are limping towards a mutual split; the end of an era equal parts discouraging and enthralling.
Once again, Prosise has cruelly decided to force-feed us hope. His performance on Saturday night against the Chargers was captivating on a number of levels. Upon reception of his first carry, I yelped in astonishment. The silky-smooth running style we grew to love and too quickly forgot was before our eyes once again.
Prosise gains a cool nine yards on his initial touch out of a tight singleback formation. Even at full speed, his elusiveness is astounding. Watch as the safety crashes down to blow up the play only to completely whiff. I have no idea how this happens but it happens so we shall rejoice.
But a running back’s success is so dependant on offensive line play, this play could’ve just been a fluke(r).
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
On the very next snap, Prosise takes the handoff out of the gun and lingers, surveying his land before flying off tackle for another chunk gain and a first down. We’ve known for years that C.J.’s physical traits are both present and impressive, but the deliberate nature of his backfield loitering is an exciting development for an exciting back.
On his third carry in as many plays, Prosise yet again showcases patience and then explosion:
At this point, I don’t think it is hyperbole by any means to declare C.J. Prosise the greatest player in NFL history. A list of things in existence more devastating than this juke to Patrick Afriyie’s self esteem:
A pass interference places the Seahawks at their favorite yard line, giving Prosise a chance to remind us that, while his style of play and knack for injury evoke the notion of an undersized, shiftier back, he is by no means a small human.
C.J. clearly fits the mold of a third down back, but shows an ability to thrive in short-yardage situations as well. While this is not a sustainable role for someone with such pronounced durability concerns, establishing the run is the best way to keep defenders honest and I think everybody would agree with that sentiment.
On the Seahawks’ next drive, Prosise twice touches the ball and twice reminds us that, when healthy, he is a singular talent.
Despite the surplus of skill in Seattle’s running back room, nobody but Prosise can cut like this. Rashaad Penny would gain two yards here. Prosise turns it into five. Sure, three extra yards isn’t all that impressive in the preseason but, in a game of millimeters, as I believe the saying goes, three yards can make all the difference.
A few plays later, a slip screen further demonstrates his value in the open field.
Prosise bobbles the pass and stops in his tracks, sending Adrian Phillips flying past him. Two other defenders have an opportunity to bring C.J. down, but he slips away from both before finally being wrestled to the ground.
This breakout performance — if you can even call it that — comes at an inadvertently serendipitous time; just before Seattle’s game began, it was announced that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is retiring from the NFL. Luck battled through tears after the news broke, explaining that the repetition of injury and rehab has finally become too much. He had to choose his own wellbeing and happiness over football.
If there’s one player who can relate to this mindset, it’s C.J. Prosise. The mental toll that incessant injury must take on someone so capable is staggering. “It’s been such a struggle for him,” said Pete Carroll after Saturday’s game. “I don’t think anybody was surprised. We’re just happy for him.”
The most exciting takeaway from Prosise’s preseason performance is likely the most painful: the potential is still there. His rookie season was, simply put, brilliant, and everything since has been overwhelmingly bad. The production, the efficiency — all of it — has been missing. Until Saturday night. C.J. proved to us that the injuries have been to blame for all of his woes. That he is still someone worth investing in. That he is still a living, breathing cheat code.
Even after his impressive return to form, it seems relatively likely that Prosise will don another team’s uniform in 2019. But Carroll understands what C.J. brings to his squad. “I don’t give up on guys very quickly,” the coach firmly remarked. “There comes a point where, if a guy just can’t stay healthy, then he won’t be able to play, but he’s bouncing back. You know I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that he’s able to do that.”