Well if the old narrative doesn’t stand true, the Seattle Seahawks are indeed still a second half team. I’ll admit openly I have had my doubts about this season. This season has allowed my deepest, darkest worries to creep in. Is Pete too far removed from his college days to continue to steal exceptional talent in the draft? Has the endless pool of defensive backlog finally dried up? Is Russell Wilson distracted? Do the Seahawks still hunger for greatness the way they used to? But, just as they always do, the Seahawks make me feel like a guilty partner in this relationship for ever doubting them. Honestly, have I not been treated well? The last four games have been nothing short of thrilling. And on top of it all, the Seahawks are winning through the arm of Russell Wilson; a passing attack that has never been seen since the establishment of the Marshawn Lynch era. Yes, put the naysayers to bed, Russell Wilson can not only survive without Lynch, but thrive.
There has been a bit of chatter amongst my various football circles—which I will admit do not always offer the most intelligent of discussion—that the Seahawks could very well cut Marshawn Lynch in the coming off season. The thought process behind this is rooted in the recent play off Russell himself and that of Mr. Thomas Rawls. The thought process, on the surface is not inherently flawed, even the most casual of fans today realize we live in a salary capped league. Lynch and Wilson are both expensive and Rawls’ recent play has been nothing short of terrific, much better in fact than what we saw of early season Lynch. So why not? Wilson’s money is a necessity, teams are built around quarterbacks and with Rawls marching all over opposing team’s defenses, Lynch now seems redundant. However, delve a bit deeper into the league’s past experiences with first year running backs and you’ll soon start to find how dangerous it is to rely on a relatively unproven running back who has produced one solid season. As a fan, it’s difficult not to expect Rawls to pick up right where he has left off this season. While not unachievable, history would suggest against betting on this expectation, doubly so with the recent ankle injury. The Packers bet on Eddie Lacey picking up where he left off coming into the 2014 season and he still continues to be a shadow of his former self. The Seahawks just signed a replacement for Rawls, in Bryce Brown, who had an excellent rookie campaign and has yet to find permanent employment since. There are cautionary tales riddled throughout the NFL and while the Seahawks are one of the best teams in the league at extracting talent, the running back position is just too much of a wild card; one year you are DeMarco Murray of the Dallas Cowboys, the next you’re DeMarco Murray of the Philadelphia Eagles. Running backs as year-in-year-out consistent and dominant as Lynch are generational talents.
Thus the main takeaway, the Seahawks would be foolish to part ways with one of the most consistently great backs in the league, based solely off the emergence of Rawls. The Seahawks undoubtedly already know this. Lynch is experiencing his worst season in years. He is also experiencing an injury that would render most natural human beings incapable of playing a casual game of H.O.R.S.E, let alone playing in a competitive NFL brawl; seriously, look up sports hernia and get ready to cringe. Lynch can almost entirely attribute this season of unproductivity to this injury. Couple that and the league’s worst offensive line, and it’s a recipe for what we have seen thus far from the franchise running back. When Lynch returns later on this season, both of those issues will have been rectified. Ask any defensive coordinator, a healthy Marshawn Lynch with a fresh pair of legs is a matchup nightmare. A healthy Lynch, coupled with Wilson’s recent evolution into an elite passing Quarterback is a potential game changer in the playoffs.
Even believing Lynch is at the tail end of his career, which is almost assuredly the case, the Seahawks aren’t just simply going to cut him because they believe they have found his second coming. This isn’t meant to be a damning statement against Rawls, any more than it is supposed to suggest that Lynch has another seven years left in the tank. This is the reality, teams that gamble on unproven running backs more often than not, lose. The Seahawks likely have a good one in Rawls, and potentially the back of the future. But when it comes to cutting a Hall of Fame bound talent who has carried this offense on his back for years, there is going to have to be more than just potential. Lynch will be on this team next season. He may not start and his age may prevent him from being the best back on this team, but he will be here. Count on it.