The Seattle Seahawks have come to rely on the running ability of Marshawn Lynch quite a lot over the last four or five seasons, but among their many problems, him slowing down might be a growing concern.
Lynch missed two games this season and has been playing with a hamstring injury, obviously weighing down on him. But he’s also a running back that’s five months from his 30th birthday, with eight seasons behind him. He has averaged 4.2 yards per carry at least in each of his four previous seasons with the Seahawks, but is just at 3.6 so far in 2015.
Lynch has picked up the pace recently. After going for just 182 yards through his first four games on 55 carries (3.3 per carry), he’s looked better as the Seahawks climbed their way back to .500. He ran for 122 yards in the 20-3 win over the San Francisco 49ers and 71 yards in the win over the Dallas Cowboys. His average is up to 3.6, with a 4.02 rush per carry in the last two games. Not too impressive considering the standards and what the Seahawks are used to from him, but better.
The Seahawks don’t have a very good offensive line, ranked 31st in pass protection according to Football Outsiders. They’re much better on the ground (11th), but a lot of that success has come through Russell Wilson scrambling or Thomas Rawls with 376 yards (still the team’s leading rusher) on just 69 carries. The Seahawks have run for more yards than anyone this season, but part of it is because their passing offense has been terrible.
Lynch isn’t done, far from it. But like a lot of the team’s parts seemingly in decline or in some sort of funk due to a number or reasons, including coaching mistakes, he too is going through a weird season and is looking far from his usual ability. Now, more than ever, the Seahawks can’t afford to have him start the inevitable running back decline.