RENTON, Wash. – With one amazing 67-yard rumble, Marshawn Lynch ran, stiff-armed and bullied his way into Seahawks lore last January.
And thanks to that ridiculous touchdown run that ranks among the greatest in playoff history, it’s easy to forget something about the man who made the earth move that day – Lynch still has been a Seahawk for less than a year. This training camp with Seattle, these preseason games? They are Lynch’s first in a Seahawks uniform.
So while Lynch already has a place secured in Seahawks history, he is still getting used to his place in the Seahawks’ present. This time last year, Lynch was preparing for his fourth season with the Buffalo Bills. Four games into the season, he was traded to the Seahawks and had to hit the ground running while learning a new offense getting used to a new locker room.
This year feels different for Lynch. Feels better.
“Just to come in and start with the team, it gives you a little better presence,” he said. “That first meeting is where they lay down the foundation of what you’re going to be looking for for the rest of the season.”
And it’s not like he came to Seattle and had to learn an entirely new offense. The running schemes in Buffalo and Seattle were similar, but even so, Lynch had to make some quick adjustments last year, whereas this season he has all of training camp to learn a new offense with the rest of the team.
“I wouldn’t say catch-up, but learning on the fly,” he said of last season. “For the most part, the run game was pretty standard. Inside-outside zone is pretty much what offenses run, so I was up to speed on that. Just the terminology and verbiage that they were using.”
Asked what kind of shape he is in coming into the season, Lynch only said, “I feel great,” and it has been clear in training camp that the running back better known for his power is also quite nimble heading into his fifth season.
“Marshawn looks fantastic,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s sharper, stronger, and leaner than he was a year ago and really determined.”
That’s good news for an offense that struggled to run the ball with much consistency last season. While one of the lasting memories of the 2010 season was Lynch’s 67-yard score against the Saints, the reality is that the Seahawks ranked 31st in rushing offense last year with an average of 89.0 yards per game. In his 12 regular-season games as a Seahawk, Lynch gained 573 yards on 165 carries, good for an average of 3.5 yards per carry, the lowest of his career.
However the common perception was that the running game struggles were the result of offensive line play, not a problem at running back. That is apparently the perception of the Seahawks’ front office as well considering that Seattle used its top two draft picks on offensive linemen and signed guard Robert Gallery in free agency while making no significant changes to a running back group led by Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington.
Like any coach, Carroll wants his team to run the ball well, and with Lynch running behind a revamped line, he thinks the Seahawks will be able to do just that.
“It’s really important that we run the football,” Carroll said. “We’ve been committed to it since we got here. We didn’t get it accomplished last year, but hopefully we’re getting closer.”
Lynch hopes having a full season with the Seahawks will be a step in the right direction of fixing that run game.
“Coming in this year and actually being able to be a part of that first meeting where they did lay down the foundation, I got a better sense of where they’re coming from and what’s going on,” he said.