Michael Robinson back to leading the way for Marshawn Lynch

Posted Nov 8, 2013

The chemistry between Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks’ leading rusher, and Michael Robinson, his lead-blocking fullback, was evident once again in Lynch’s season-best 125-yard effort against the Buccaneers.

On one of Marshawn Lynch’s seven double-digit runs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, it was Michael Robinson’s lead block on strong safety Mark Barron that sprung the Seahawks’ Beast Mode back. On another, Robinson walled off linebacker Lavonte David to provide Lynch with the lane he exploited.

By the time the Seahawks had won in overtime, Lynch had run for a season-high 125 yards, and Robinson had showed why the Seahawks re-signed him when fullback Derrick Coleman went down with a hamstring injury in the Week 7 win against the Cardinals in Arizona.

“He’s a veteran that’s done a great job – a Pro Bowl-type player,” quarterback Russell Wilson said when asked about Robinson’s impact in his second game during his second stint with the Seahawks. “So to have him back and have him going full force for Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin, that’s big for us.

“We love his veteran ability, what he can do, and his brains. He’s an extremely smart football player, knows where to be at the right time, just understands the game and he brings that tough side to our football, too, so we like that. We love having him.”

So does Lynch. The NFL’s second-leading rusher entering Sunday’s game against the Falcons in Atlanta, Lynch doesn’t speak to the media. But he did smile one day this week when asked about Robinson’s return.

Robinson was Lynch’s follow-me fullback during his first three seasons with the Seahawks, when Lynch rushed for 573 yards in 12 games in 2010 after being acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills; 1,204 yards in 2012, when he and Robinson were voted to the Pro Bowl; and a career-high 1,590 yards last season, when Lynch was voted All-Pro and made another trip to the Pro Bowl.

But on the roster cut to 53 players in August, Robinson still was recovering from an illness that forced him to lose 33 pounds, and the Seahawks liked Coleman’s potential. So Coleman it was, and Robinson it wasn’t.

But with Coleman out, Robinson is in, again.

Asked about Wilson’s “love his brains” comment, Robinson laughed and offered, “That’s my value. I’ve got a lot of experience. I’ve played in a lot of ballgames. I’ve seen a lot of stuff. There aren’t many defenses that I haven’t seen, or any situations I really haven’t really been a part of.

“Russell and I talk about stuff all the time, and he’s told me it’s good to have another mind in the backfield.”

But there’s also the physical aspect of Robinson’s lead-blocking game. During his tenure with the Seahawks – and Lynch – Robinson has had run-ins with the best middle linebackers of his generation, the previous generation and the new generation. The Ravens’ Ray Lewis. The Redskins’ London Fletcher. The Bears’ Brian Urlacher. The 49ers’ Patrick Willis. The Panthers’ Luke Kuechly. The Rams’ James Laurinaitis.

After Lynch had carried 32 times into the teeth of the Ravens’ Lewis-led defense in 2011, he said, “That was the best linebacker to ever touch the game. Having those kinds of thoughts in your mind, like, ‘Ah, you know what, that might not be a battle that I want to take’ – but Mike Rob just took it upon himself.”

Lynch then cocked his head and cracked a slight smile before adding, “I don’t know what’s wrong with him. I was looking at it on film and a couple of times and I was like, ‘You know what Mike Rob, I probably wouldn’t have done that.’ But he did, and he wasn’t turning it down.

“I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t have done it, not that many times.”

Lynch then laughed and said, “Well, I did. But I had a choice to play off his block. Mike didn’t have any other choice.”

Now, here they are, doing it again. Robinson as leader blocker. Lynch as leading rusher. Sympatico as ever.

“It’s a little chemistry,” Robinson said. “I can’t say running the football is not just X’s and O’s – OK, go block that guy. A lot of it is. But he knows me. I know him. I know certain things he likes. He knows when I’m going to cut a guy. He knows how certain linebackers like to attack me.

“I tell him, ‘Look, pop your clutch a little bit here, I need room. I need room to do what I do.’ And he just understands that. So I think there is something to the chemistry between a back and a fullback.”

Lynch and Robinson are to this Seahawks team what Shaun Alexander and Mack Strong were to the Seahawks teams that won four consecutive NFC West titles (2004-07) and went to the playoffs five consecutive seasons (2003-07). It’s like LaDainian Tomlinson and Lorenzo Neal were with the Chargers. And Arian Foster and Vonta Leach were with the Texans, and Ray Rice and Leach are with the Ravens.  

“It’s not by surprise that guys stick with a runner for multiple years,” Robinson said. “There’s something to that.”

Especially when that runner sticks with a fullback that is willing to stick his neck out for him.

“Marshawn always calls me his eyes,” Robinson said. “But that’s because I know what he’s looking for.”