32 Questions in 32 Days: Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch
Jan 6 2013 Landover MD USA Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch 24 runs the ball during the second half of the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field The Seahawks won 24 14 Daniel Shirey USA TODAY Sports

As we count down to the NFL season, Sports Jerks will be bringing you 32 questions in 32 days. Each day, we’ll feature one of the most important questions for a different NFL team heading into the opening weekend of the league.

Today’s feature team and question?

The Seattle Seahawks – Will Marshawn Lynch run wild again?

Last season, the Seattle Seahawks nearly won the NFC West, falling just short of the San Francisco 49ers in the division race. The only thing that kept Seattle from a tie with the Niners was, ironically, a tie. While the Seahawks finished 11-5 on the season, San Francisco was 11-4-1 with a 24-24 no-decision with the St. Louis Rams in Week 10.

Much of the credit for Seattle’s breakthrough year was given to the play of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson came in under the radar behind the top two picks, quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, but in the end, his numbers were very favorable to theirs. Wilson’s 26 passing touchdowns were the most of the trio and his ten interceptions, 64% completion percentage, and 100.0 passer rating were far superior to Luck’s, who was the top overall pick in the NFL Draft. Wilson far exceeded any expectations that were placed on his shoulders and was perhaps the biggest reason the team reached the playoffs.

He had plenty of help, though. In addition to a defense that ranked in the top ten in both rushing and against the pass, Wilson’s backfield mate was really the one who made life easier.

Running back Marshawn Lynch has often been a bit of a disappointment. I should know – I’ve taken many a chance on him in various Fantasy Football leagues. After two so-so seasons with the Bills, he took a nosedive there. Lynch came to Seattle in 2010 and promptly averaged a meager 3.5 yards per carry in his first season. Unlike in Buffalo, however, Lynch turned things around. In 2011, he set new career highs with 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns, and last year, things got even better. Lynch broke out for a whopping 1,590 yards – good for third in the entire NFL. He added 11 more touchdowns and was one of the best running backs in the league.

After such a dominant year, things can only get better, right? Not exactly.

I don’t doubt that Lynch will again be a good running back. He’s got a nice little string of success going these past two years and he’s only 27. Still, if Lynch is a stock, I’m selling.

Last year was an all-time high and I don’t see him matching the monster numbers he racked up in 2012. To rush for 1,500 yards is a spectacular accomplishment, but there are very few players who can repeat it. More to the point, when backs have the kind of year Lynch had, teams start game-planning for them. Lynch will see a heavy dose of defenses keying in on him and that will make things difficult.

His saving grace could be Wilson. However, for him to get opposing defenses to back off of Lynch, he’ll need to avoid the oft-mentioned sophomore slump. Also, keep in mind that while Wilson was very good statistically, he’s not the type of quarterback that will go out and sling the ball all over the field. His season was wildly impressive as a whole, but his 3,118 passing yards were extremely modest. That ranked Wilson in the bottom 1/3 of the NFL behind players such as Brandon Weeden and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Wilson is efficient but how many times can he make opposing defenses pay with a deep ball if they want to focus on Lynch?

Lynch should have another good season, but to expect him to produce similarly to his 2012 numbers is unrealistic. Look for a bit of a dip in his 2013 statistics.

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Anson Whaley
Anson Whaley is a freelance writer with more than 16 years of experience. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a current member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Mr. Whaley has also been a credentialed member of the media for various events. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');