Even with recent additions, Marshawn Lynch continues to lead the way

Posted Jun 25, 2013

The Seahawks ran the ball more than any team in the NFL last season, with Marshawn Lynch gaining a career-high 1,590 yards and the team going for a franchise-record 2,579. Don’t expect that to change in 2013.

Marshawn Lynch’s powerful legs already have taken him and Seahawks where they had never been before.

For Lynch, it was a career-high 1,590 yards last season. For the offense, it was a franchise-record 2,579 rushing yards – 122 more than during the Seahawks’ run to the Super Bowl in 2005.


Running backs on the 90-man roster: 6

Running backs carried on the 53-man roster last season: 4

Incumbent starters: RB Marshawn Lynch, FB Michael Robinson

Incumbent backups: RB Robert Turbin

Finished last season on the practice squad: RB Derrick Coleman

Draft choices: RB Christine Michael (second round), FB/RB Spencer Ware (sixth)

Keep an eye on: The rotation. It will continue to start with Lynch, for all the obvious reasons. Last season, Turbin was the spot replacement, but he also had 108 yards on 20 carries in the Week 14 romp over the Arizona Cardinals. Coupled with Lynch’s 128-yard effort, it gave the Seahawks two 100-yard rushers in a game for the first time since Shaun Alexander (141) and Maurice Morris (104) did it against the Houston Texans in 2005. But with Leon Washington signing with the New England Patriots after being released, the third-down role is open.

Just how far can the team’s Beast Mode back carry the team? When Lynch scored on a 2-yard run with 31 seconds to play against the Falcons in Atlanta in January, the Seahawks were that close to advancing to the NFC Championship game before losing by two points. And it was his 27-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter the week before that gave the Seahawks their first lead in a wild-card playoff victory over the Washington Redskins.

In 2005, when Shaun Alexander led the NFL with a franchise-record 1,880 rushing yards, he averaged 5.1 yards on 370 carries. Last season, Lynch averaged 5.0 yards on 315 carries – and got more than just a little help from the rookie duo of Russell Wilson, who ran for more yards (489) than any quarterback in franchise history; and Robert Turbin, who added 354 yards.

You get the picture. Even with Wilson’s arrival last year and added maturation in the offense this offseason, as well as the addition of wide receiver Percy Harvin in a March trade with the Minnesota Vikings, the Seahawks will continue to lean on Lynch and the running game.

We’ve used – and reused – this snapshot from coach Pete Carroll’s Town Hall meeting at CenturyLink Field in May, but it’s worth repeating because it shows Carroll’s commitment to pounding opponents.

The question from one of the 500 fans at the meeting was about the offense veering more toward a passing attack after the Seahawks ran the ball a league-high 536 times last season?

“No,” was Carroll’s blunt and immediate response, which drew a rousing mixture of laughs and applause. “There are so many good things that come from running the football. It adds to the mentality of your team. It adds to the toughness of your football club that you present.

“Because you’re always going to play tough defense, hopefully. We’re always going to be tough in special teams. But you can be other than that on offense if you don’t run the football. We want to be a physical, aggressive, tough, get-after-you football team. And that’s where we can send the biggest message about that commitment to that.”

Just how deep is this commitment? In 2010, Carroll and general manager John Schneider worked a trade to obtain Lynch from the Buffalo Bills. In 2011, they selected Turbin in the fourth round of the NFL Draft because his style would allow the offense to continue being physical on those rare occasions when Lynch isn’t on the field. This spring, they used their top draft choice to select Christine Michael, another physical runner who fits the Seahawks’ get-after-you approach.

“We have some great talent at the running back position,” said Wilson, who used the zone-read to average 5.2 yards and score four rushing touchdowns on 94 carries. “It all starts with Marshawn Lynch and (fullback) Michael Robinson, obviously.

“And then you have Robert Turbin, who is an unbelievable guy to fill in. He’s a starting-caliber running back for sure who can catch the ball really well, runs the football really well. Very, very smart and great at (pass) protection. You have Christine Michael back there, too. The new guy, so it’s fun to have him back there. He’s very quick and can make a lot of plays.”

The Seahawks remain ready to use Lynch and all that he brings, but the club also is preparing to not overuse him. In addition to his career-high 315 carries last season, Lynch also played in all 16 regular-season games for the first time in his six NFL seasons and then had another 36 carries for 178 more yards in two playoff games.

Lynch’s take? “I just want to win,” he has said on several occasions.