If you thought Marshawn Lynch would turn soft and unproductive after inking a big contract this offseason, take a look at the NFL rushing leaders.
Lynch is at the top of the list.
The Seattle Seahawks running back has 423 yards on 92 carries and has scored two rushing touchdowns. Lynch is averaging a robust 4.6 yards per carry, has twice run for more than 100 yards in a game and is on pace to rush for a career-best 1,692 yards this season.
He finished with a near season-high 118 yards on 20 carries in Seattle’s 19-13 loss to St. Louis on Sunday.
Last season, Lynch posted career highs of 1,202 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns, earning his second Pro Bowl selection.
If Lynch finishes with at least 1,000 yards this season, he’ll be the first Seattle runner since Shaun Alexander in 2004-05 to run for at least 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
When Seattle signed the 26-year-old Lynch to a four-year, $31 million deal, including $17 million guaranteed, there were concerns about his durability long-term because of his bruising running style.
So far, Lynch has continued to eat up chunks of yards with the physical, relentless way he runs.
“The effort he plays with is infectious,” tight end Zach Miller said. “It makes all of the linemen want to block harder for him, and a lot of times he is carrying a lot of guys, breaking I don’t know how many tackles he breaks – but I know it’s at least one a play.”
Added coach Pete Carroll: “Marshawn continues to be just rock solid for us. He’s doing everything we want.”
Much has been made of his team’s struggles passing the ball, but Lynch remains the identity of the offense and the focal point of opposing teams’ preparation.
The Seahawks have run the ball 56 percent of the time overall and even more on first down (66 percent). They are averaging 4.8 yards per play on first down, which sets them up for manageable second and third downs.
“These are workable numbers – these are on-schedule type of numbers, as far as the early downs,” Carroll said. “And we’ve mixed the runs and passes, so we just need to get better.”
A key problem has been third downs. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has helped the offense convert third downs just 28 percent of the time, 27th overall in the league. He has completed 11 of 27 passes for 77 yards on third downs.
“This is a very hard part of the game for all young quarterbacks – it’s red zone and third downs,” Carroll said. “That’s where it gets most difficult, and we need to get better in both areas.”firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams