Marshawn Lynch must now adapt to the Seahawks, not the other way around.
That’s what Tom Cable says.
Cable is the Seahawks coach that may be closest to Marshawn Lynch. So when the veteran offensive line coach, Seattle ground game coordinator and former head coach of Lynch’s hometown Oakland Raiders sends a message on what the 29-year-old running back needs to do if and when he ever gets back from Nov. 25 abdominal surgery, it means something.
It was definitely interesting to hear Cable’s answer this week when he was asked whether he is counting on Lynch to be back for the playoffs. For the Seahawks, the postseason begins Jan. 9 or 10.
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“I think we are counting on him to get healthy, whenever that is. And then when that happens is for him to be able to come back in and adapt to this football team,” Cable said. “In the way it is, the way it acts and the way it’s moving right now, collectively.
“That will be his challenge. But right now his No. 1 thing is getting healthy.”
Lynch adapting to the Seahawks? That’s how much has changed on Seattle’s offense during this five-game winning streak. It began the day Lynch missed the Nov. 22 game against San Francisco because of his sports hernia-like injury and the first surgery of his nine-year career.
From when coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider traded with Buffalo for Lynch in their first Seattle season until Lynch began missing games this October, the Seahawks revolved around Lynch. He was the foundation of Carroll’s power-running, ball-control game. And, oh yes, it worked: Lynch led the NFL in rushing and touchdowns from 2011-14. And the Seahawks went to the past two Super Bowls, winning one and coming within one more carry for Lynch from the 1-yard line of winning the second.
But since Lynch went out for this abdominal issue white-hot quarterback Russell Wilson has taken over as the offense’s foundation. In these past five weeks while Lynch has been in Philadelphia for surgery and rehabilitation and now training in the Bay Area, Wilson has become the first NFL player to throw at least three touchdown passes with zero interceptions in five consecutive games.
Behind Cable’s suddenly effective line, Wilson has 19 touchdown passes in those five games. Christine Michael and Bryce Brown filled in for Lynch and also-injured rookie Thomas Rawls by combining for 127 of the team’s 182 rushing yards last weekend against Cleveland. That’s how Seattle has stayed atop the league in rushing offense.
No, this is not at all the same team that played Nov. 15 against Arizona. That is the Seahawks’ last loss.
Carroll won’t commit to Lynch getting back for the playoffs, saying Wednesday only that “it’s possible.” The longer Seattle stays alive in the playoffs, obviously, the more likely it is Lynch will play again this season.
So how much of a challenge will that be for him to adjust when and if he returns?
“I think if he’s right and ready to go and all that … I’ve said this before: he’s a fine football player,” Cable said. “So it’s his ability to adapt to us, really. Who we are and how we’ve kind of come together as a group and a team.
“I see us being a little more detailed. I see us playing at a very high tempo. Accepting challenges. Overcoming issues when they come up in a game or a practice. I think we are growing up, in a big way.”
Carroll said following Christmas Eve’s practice the team expects WR Doug Baldwin to be OK — though it may be a game-time decision whether he plays Sunday. A hamstring issue has sidelined him from practice this week. Baldwin is tied with Cris Carter and Calvin Johnson for an NFL record of four consecutive games of two touchdown receptions. … Carroll sounded less optimistic about LT Russell Okung and his strained calf, saying he likely will be questionable for the Rams game when the injury report comes out Friday. … The coach coyly said we will all find out Sunday if DeShawn Shead or Jeremy Lane starts at right cornerback. “Both are ready,” Carroll said. … Yes, the team is playing Christmas-themed music amid its usual rap during practices Thursday and Friday.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle