By Matt Pitman
While the rookie quarterbacks’ impressive play and more impressive leadership in guiding their teams to the playoffs will dominate the week leading up to Sunday’s wildcard matchup, Marshawn Lynch drew the greatest praise from Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan during his conference call with the Seattle media Wednesday morning.
“He’s always been one of my favorite players,” Shanahan said. “You just can’t tackle him. He’s everything you look for in a running back.”
Deservedly, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson will be compared for their record-setting rookie campaigns, their rapid acclimation to the league and even quicker ascension to leadership roles. But another equally important similarity is very similar zone-blocking schemes that produced the second- and third-leading rushers in the regular season.
“There’s a lot of similarities with the zone-blocking scheme,” Shanahan said. “[Seahawks offensive line coach Tom] Cable has done a fantastic job every place he’s been with the zone scheme. Seattle is no different.”
Redskins rookie Alfred Morris finished the regular season as the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 1,613 yards. Lynch was third with 1,590.
As for the quarterbacks who make this game arguably the marquee matchup of Wildcard Weekend, Shanahan is more impressed by the complete packages of Griffin III and Wilson, not just their record-setting play as rookies.
“It doesn’t take you long to figure out they’re easy guys to like,” he said. “As people got to know Robert, as time went on, they could see he’s a natural leader … a lot like Wilson.”
For now, the rookies have a lot to prove before earning the title of favorite, which Lynch already has.