Seahawks bringing Lynch back a benefit regardless of his performance
With the Seahawks down to their fourth-string running back, the organization turned to an old friend in Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch, 33, hasn’t appeared in a game since Week 6 of the 2018 season when he played for the Oakland Raiders against, of all teams, the Seahawks. He signed with Seattle earlier this week along with his former backup Robert Turbin.
Lynch and Turbin were needed because the Seahawks are missing 1,000-yard rusher Chris Carson, who has a hip fracture, second-year back Rashaad Penny, who tore his ACL, and third-string back C.J. Prosise, who broke his arm.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 25, 2019
The Seahawks wrap up the regular season at home on Sunday Night Football against the San Francisco 49ers. The winner gets the NFC West crown and will host at least one playoff game.
If the 49ers win, they’re the No. 1 seed in the NFC. If Seattle wins, depending on how the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints do, they could be either the No. 1, 2 or 3 seed. The loser of this game will be the No. 5 seed and travel to either Dallas or Philadelphia next Sunday for a wild-card round playoff game.
The Seahawks love to run the football and Lynch is arguably the best running back in the history of the franchise. Should expectations for Lynch be tempered? Danny O’Neil and Michael Bumpus of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant said, really, Lynch’s performance on the field isn’t as important as you may think. He’ll already have a huge impact on the game against San Francisco.
“The idea of bringing back Marshawn Lynch makes a ton of sense for two reasons,” O’Neil said. “You know the effect he’s going to have on the crowd. You know what (his signing) is going to inject into this city. You’re playing at home and if nothing else, even if all signing Marshawn Lynch does is get people to look away from that steaming pile that’s still giving off fumes from (last Sunday’s loss to Arizona), to stop talking about that … that accomplishes something because it’s going to get the people in the stadium … people are loud, people are into it. You want that environment because that gives you the best chance to win against San Francisco.”
If Lynch does get a solid run in, it will mean more for the team and the crowd than if someone else carried the ball. The Seahawks also worked out veteran back C.J. Anderson, but signed Lynch and Turbin instead.
“You’re going to watch how people respond to Marshawn if and when he does carry (the ball) and maybe he has some good football left, and maybe even just OK football, and if it’s a 5-yard run, you’d rather have Marshawn do it than C.J. Anderson because of the impact it’s going to have on everybody,” O’Neil said.
Bumpus agreed, saying the 12s should be in full force come Sunday due to Lynch being back.
“The 12s are real. Home-field advantage is real,” he said. “(Head coach) Pete Carroll making this move helps home-field advantage even more. We know the 12s are going to show up every Sunday and be loud and rowdy. They’re going to be louder on Sunday. Marshawn’s going to touch the ball and they’re going to scream louder.”
In addition to the crowd, Lynch’s signing will bring energy to his teammates as well.
“He’s going to inject some type of enthusiasm into his teammates,” Bumpus said. “I wouldn’t say Pete Carroll made this move for scheme. There’s some 25-year-old running back who can get it done. … This was like a culture sign. ‘This is we’re bringing our guy back. We’re going to give you guys something to believe in.’ His leadership, his presence is going to do something to the team and the crowd.”
Bumpus, a former Seahawks wide receiver, said playing running back in the NFL is tough and only gets tougher with age. Expectations shouldn’t be crazy high for the 33-year-old Lynch on Sunday, but Bumpus said his play really won’t matter because the impact will already have been made come kickoff.
“You’re not bringing him in here to rush for 100 yards, you’re bringing him in here to do something to the crowd, to the team,” Bumpus said. “His presence will still be felt no matter what he does on Sunday.”
O’Neil said that regardless of other coaching decisions Carroll makes, there’s something he has always thrived with, and that’s understanding his team.
“I think Pete has an understanding of the emotions of his team and how those emotions impact performance in a way that we can’t or don’t know how to quantify in the same way that you can look at the cost of a timeout,” O’Neil said. “What we don’t see is the emotional impact that Seattle’s sideline, which is chaotic, has on the way guys play. I think it fuels it. I think he has an emotional team and I think he coaches to the emotions of his team, which he obviously sees as a benefit.”
Added Bumpus, “There’s no stat to measure emotion. It’s a vibe, a feel. I think that’s what sets him apart from a lot of coaches. … That’s why he throws challenge flags all the time. He says he goes with his gut, and he’s been successful going with his gut. And his gut told him bring Marshawn back … because he feels that his vibe will help his sideline and help the stadium on Sunday.”
Listen to the discussion at this link or in the player below.