Is Marshawn Lynch getting phased out of the offense?

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Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell created a stir last week at the Seahawks town hall. When he was asked what role Christine Michael would play in the running game in 2014, he replied that the team was planning on a running back by committee approach.

What this would mean is a more equal distribution of carries in stead of relying on Marshawn Lynch to put the team on his back and move the chains over and over, as has so often been the case since Beast Mode arrived from Buffalo in 2010.

Robert Turbin has a promising combination of strength and speed, Lynch is arguably the best power runner in the NFL today, and Michael is a superhuman speedster in the making. Each brings a unique set of talents to the Seahawks and Bevell might employ any of them depending on the situation in 2014.

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However, the C-Mike train has been getting more and more momentum in recent weeks. He’s garnered high praises from Pete Carroll and the other coaches and nearly every writer who follows the team in OTAs has been blown away by his production so far. He also posted an incredible highlight run on his Instagram account which went viral before being taken down.

Yesterday Hawkblogger predicted that one day Michael might end up being even more productive than Lynch per carry:

Lynch has been a career 4.2 YPC player. Michael will probably eventually settle into a 4.5 YPC type of back. LeSean McCoy is up around 4.8 for his career and Adrian Peterson is at 5.0 as one of the most explosive backs in history. Michael finished second in the NFL in rushing in the pre-season last year and averaged 5.0 yards per tote...”

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All this leads me to wonder if Lynch’s days as the Seahawks’ workhorse are numbered. The day after Bevell made the comments, the hosts of NFL Live interpreted it as a clear sign that they’re getting ready for Beast Mode to finally shut down.

There’s also the curious fact that Marshawn has yet to show his face at the OTAs. While we can probably safely chalk that up to Marshawn-being-Marshawn, it does make me wonder if there’s a rift between Lynch and management. If you’ll recall he also decided to skip the White House trip, because, well, to hell with that. Any one of these things probably mean nothing (C-Mike’s rising stock, Bevell’s comments, Lynch’s age and abscence), but taken altogether it’s possible that we’re seeing the beginning of the end.

Back in April ESPN’s John Clayton speculated that Lynch might be cut after the 2014 season. At the time I dismissed this as idle speculation and typical ESPN silliness – creating a story by making up an angle and then reporting on people’s reaction to it. However, now it seems much more plausible.

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Lynch has the ability to play several more seasons of extremely productive football. True, most running backs begin to decline at his age (and especially after such a heavy workload) but he’s not an average running back. If he wants to Marshawn can grind out another solid contract when his current deal is done, but we’ve already heard that he was considering retiring if the Seahawks won the Super bowl. He has since changed his mind but it’s not a logical leap to think that Lynch’s passion for bruising runs may be diminishing.

If that’s the case then running back by committee may very quickly turn into the Christine Michael show.

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