The Seattle Seahawks and their fans should be used to this by now. Despite boasting the best defense and the best record for most of the season, the team has been doubted, disrespected and counted out by nearly every national media outlet in the country. This next storyline should come as no surprise then.
A lot of pundits are predicting that the Denver Broncos will shut down Marshawn Lynch in the Super bowl. They say this because the Broncos did a good job slowing down New England Patriots running back Legarrette Blount in the AFC Championship. It’s circular logic that only gets any tread because ESPN has to fill 24 hours somehow, I suppose. Let’s take a look why this argument is bogus.
Blount is undoubtedly a talented rusher. This season he ran for 772 yards and scored seven touchdowns on 153 carries. He made a huge splash against the Colts in the divisional round, where he ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns single handedly.
The next week against the Broncos things didn’t go quite so well. Blount only had six yards. So this means that Denver has the greatest running defense in the history of football, and therefore Marshawn Lynch stands no chance of running roughshod over them, right? Wrong.
For starters, Blount only carried the ball five times. Bill Belichick is famous for coming up with unique game plans for each opponent. Against the Colts the idea was to run the ball, run the ball, and then run the ball a little more. It worked. Against the Broncos he switched up for at least two reasons: one because Denver’s defense is designed to force you to pass, and two because Tom Brady is more than capable of putting up big numbers on that defense, as evidenced by the regular season meeting. In fact, if Brady hadn’t overthrown the ball on several key passes the final result may have been very different. That Blount only managed six yards was partially by design, and therefore has no baring whatsoever on Lynch.
Russell Wilson may get the green light to air it out more against Denver than he has the last few weeks, but the Seahawks are still going to run the ball, that’s a fact. But let’s make an honest comparison.
Lynch rushed for over 1200 yards and scored 12 touchdowns this year. For his career, He has 58 touchdowns and averages 4.2 yards per carry. The younger Blount has 20 touchdowns and averages 4.7, but he has benefitted from playing with a far superior offensive line. In fact, Football Outsiders ranked the Patriots’ offensive line the most efficient in run blocking in the NFL this season. The Seahawks were just ninth in run blocking and dead last in pass protection. If you give Lynch the same kind of running lanes that Blount has been given all year, his numbers might easily have eclipsed 1500 yards and 15 scores. No running back in the league has been as productive as Lynch over the last several seasons.
Denver’s goal is to force other teams to pass the ball. Incompletions mean stopping the clock, that way Peyton Manning’s offense has more time on the field to put points on the board.
Bottom line: the Broncos are going to make it hard for Lynch to break the century mark, but please, let’s just stop this nonsense about comparing Legarrette Blount to Marshawn Lynch. They’re two very different players on two very different teams, and one of them is just plain not like the other.
What exactly does OMAHA mean anyway?