Gimpy Marshawn Lynch struggles in loss to Falcons

1/14/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Blog Photo - Gimpy Marshawn Lynch struggles in loss to FalconsSeattle Seahawks' running back Marshawn Lynch was one of the best running backs in the NFL this season, finishing third in rushing yards with 1590, just a hair under 100 per game. It seemed that he'd bring a nightmare matchup to Atlanta this past weekend, where the Falcons awaited Lynch with their 29th ranked run defense that allows opponents to gash them for 4.8 yards per carry. Shockingly, Lynch was a complete non-factor on Sunday against one of the league's worst run-defending units.

Lynch missed two practices last week for only the second time all season due to a foot sprain. The sprain was thought to be mild, and Lynch was listed as probable on the injury report. The Seahawks seemed to have little concern over the ailment, and as a result, many fans expected to see Lynch kick it into beast mode when he took the field on Sunday. However, that was not the case at all.

Lynch's only moderate success against the Falcons came when he was running behind Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung. Lynch ran off his left tackle five times for 23 yards (4.6 per carry) on Sunday. However, 11 of those yards came on one run, which Lynch finished off with a fumble. On runs where Lynch ran outside of Okung or behind other linemen, he averaged 2.1 yards per carry (11 carries, 23 yards).

Though Lynch's injury was downplayed, and possibly not mentioned once throughout FOX's broadcast (that I remember), I thought his foot was slowing him down. The Falcons allowed the second most yards after contact in the NFL this season, and Lynch - one of the league's premier finishers of runs - was not plowing those tacklers backwards the way he usually does.

The coaching staff also eventually realized that Lynch wasn't himself. To start the fourth quarter, the Seahawks had the ball in the red zone. Considering there had just been a break between quarters, Lynch should have been fresh and ready to go. Instead, the Seahawks went with rookie Robert Turbin for the first two plays (granted, he did make a great play to get them down to the goal line). Lynch was handed the ball once on the goal line, then the Seahawks went back to the pass for their touchdown.

I thought that a lot of the time Lynch was in there, it was just a token move by the Seahawks' coaching staff. They didn't really want to feed Lynch the ball, but they wanted the Falcons' defense to fear the threat of one of the league's elite runners. Unfortunately, they realized Lynch's ineffectiveness a little too late, resulting in their slow first half and electric second half.

I understand that part of the reason the Seahawks abandoned the run was because they were losing by several scores, but when they came out of the locker room after halftime down 20 and in possession of the ball, the run game was still very much in play. They handed it to Lynch twice on that drive, gave it to Turbin once, and called six pass plays - an interesting ratio for the team that ranked 1st in rushing attempts and 32nd in pass attempts.

I still give the Falcons a ton of credit for locking down the Seahawks' run game. Whether Lynch's foot held him back or not, the Seahawks have a great offensive line that boasts two Pro Bowlers, and even a gimpy Lynch is no easy tackle. Regardless, I thought Lynch was struggling with that foot injury, and the Seahawks' offense could have been more effective in the first half if he was a hundred percent.
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1/15/13   |   MortonsLaw   |   156 respect

It's pretty clear the Falcons game plan was to make someone other than Lynch beat them. I'm sure they walked the safety up on first down. This is the NFL--when teams focus to stop an individual, it can be done. By doing so they allowed Russell Wilson to pick them apart at will.