The Seattle Seahawks have something special going for them. In what is becoming a rarity, the Seahawks have made the playoffs after winning the Superbowl. Not only that, but they look like an even better team than the one that pummeled the high-octane Denver Broncos in last year’s championship game. The Hawks have a powerful two-way offense, a top tier defense, a renowned and accomplished head-coach, and the stats and record to prove it.
And it all starts with Marshawn Lynch.
“Beast Mode” has continuously proven to be the NFL’s most consistent runner during his time in Seattle. The definition of a downhill runner, Lynch gives an offense an entirely new dimension whenever he steps onto the field. Regardless of whether or not he touches the ball.
Play action passes and read-option runs are a staple in the Seahawk offense. Some may point to the accuracy and keen intelligence of Russell Wilson as the source of Seattle’s success in these situations. Don’t get me wrong, Wilson is a great quarterback, for what he lacks in size, he makes up for with intelligent, accurate throws and nearly unmatched speed at the quarterback position. But if you mention the name Marshawn Lynch to opposing defensive players, and they will cower in fear.
Lynch’s presence on the field eases Russell Wilson’s pressure extraordinarily. As previously stated, Play Action passes and Read Option runs are what the Hawks are known for. When the ball touches Lynch’s hands, opposing defensive linemen, linebackers, and safeties immediately feel the need to pursue him. His knack for breaking tackles is simply too much too ignore. So, when the hand-off is faked to Lynch, defenders diagnosing the play will run towards the line of scrimmage in order to give the defensive line as much help as possible. The attention Lynch attracts will normally open up a deep throw over the top of man coverage or a throw over the middle of the field. It’s basically a pick-your-own-poison scenario when dealing with this. Either you attack Lynch at the line and have Wilson pick you apart, or drop back and watch Lynch ease his way through the pile for a first down.
One might think that because of this perfect offensive game-plan, the Seahawks would do anything they could in order to keep Lynch and Wilson together. Earlier this season, before Seattle had really hit its stride, reports had sprung up indicating that the Seahawks have grown tired of Marshawn. Rumors say that there were too many disputes about his contract and workload. Now, what I can’t wrap my mind around is why in the heck are the Seahawks not trying to coddle him? This is a guy who, despite being well into his 20’s, continues to bully defenses in a way no one else can. The same guy who has missed one game in the past 4 seasons, and who hasn’t rushed for less than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns each season he’s spent with Seattle.
The same guy who did this:
While Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas III, and Kam Chancellor are all great football players, Marshawn Lynch is the one that makes this team special. Without Lynch, the defense can trust its defensive line to take care of the run without having to risk a big passing play. Robert Turbin, Lynch’s primary backup, is nowhere near as good as Lynch, and can’t break tackles nearly as well as him either (though, no one really can). Without the scary running threat, the offense has now become one dimensional and predictable. The Lynch-less Seahawks would draw a lot of similarities to the recently eliminated Arizona Cardinals. Despite a fantastic defense, an offense that can’t produce first downs brings the whole team down. You give the opponent more chances to score, defeating the purpose of your imposing defensive unit. While most would agree the Wilson is a far better quarterback than Ryan Lindley, Wilson would still encounter some offensive hiccups without his star running back by his side.
Marshawn Lynch has proven himself to be a complete game changer, and one who is worthy of at least $10 million per year. And yet, Seattle doesn’t want to pay him that kind of money. Lynch is currently 28 years old, an age some might say is nearing the edge of one’s physical prime. And yet, he continues to amaze fans and disprove doubters. His sheer strength is incomparable, his talent is nearly irreplaceable. He easily has at least 3 years of elite play left in the tank, barring serious injury (knock on wood). His attitude doesn’t seem like a valid reason to cut him. I speculate it’s because they’re trying to save money for an enormous Russell Wilson contract.
If it weren’t for quarterbacks like Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Colin Kapernick, and Tony Romo getting paid massive contracts for mediocre seasons and restructuring the perception of quarterback market value, the Seahawks might have the cap room to keep both. It’s definitely problematic, but the Seahawks are failing to notice that they have one of the absolute best players in the league at his position on their offense, and it isn’t Russell Wilson. Good players get paid good money (see: Alex Smith), but elite players are entitled to their big contracts. And after 1700 yards from scrimmage and 17 total TD’s, it’s going to be very hard to refuse Lynch’s reasonable demands.
The Seahawks look poised to be the first team in about a decade to win back to back titles, and with all of their key pieces signed long term (and Wilson’s inevitable extension) possibly make a run at a third title in as many years. Not to say that they’ll be a bad team or anything, but if all goes according to plan, the Seahawks will be without the player that makes them truly elite.