The PFF 101, No. 10: Marshawn Lynch
The PFF grading system has proved to be pretty robust over the years. Marshawn Lynch broke it the night that Beastmode was born. With that run in the playoffs we had to concede that a +2 grade simply wasn’t enough of a positive grade to award for the play and had to manually alter his positive in the database.
That’s the kind of runner we’re dealing with when it comes to Lynch – a guy who can break not only a defense, but also the very grading system we’re using to evaluate him.
Lynch has always been an immensely talented runner, and I suspect had he come into the league in any other season – away from the looming shadow of Adrian Peterson – it would have taken far less time for him to get the recognition he now enjoys (or shies away from). Even back in his relatively disappointing Buffalo days he was running hard against an insurmountable scarcity of blocking.
In Seattle, though, his game has gone to another level, and he has become the workhorse that can carry that offense even with average blocking at times. That run against the Saints showed the kind of thing he is capable of, but his ability to force missed tackles is peerless in the league – even when compared to Peterson.
This season he forced 75 missed tackles as a runner in the regular season, 11 more as a receiver and the postseason added another 22 across three games. That is a ridiculous rate and by far the most PFF has ever recorded for one runner over a single season. Beastmode may have been born in one paradigm shifting run against the Saints, but he remains alive and well to this day.
Best Game: Week 10 @ Atlanta (+4.9)
It’s tempting to list his playoff game against the Saints as his best game of the season given the history involved, and his 140-yard, two touchdown performance that night certainly impressed, coming with a ridiculous 13 missed tackles forced, but his best grade on the season was against the Falcons.
It featured a season-high 145 rushing yards as well as a score on the ground, forcing 7 missed tackles along the way – a standard night for Lynch in that regard, but a career high for most backs. He also caught all three passes thrown his way that day, providing a valuable outlet for Russell Wilson even if they weren’t big plays after the catch.
This run typifies what Lynch brings to the table. He shows good burst to get through the line at all, a good move to cut past a defender at the sideline and then passes up the easy route out of bounds in order to stick his head down and pick up a few tough yards at the end.
Key Stat: Forced 108 missed tackles including the postseason.
Marshawn Lynch is the toughest back in the league to take to the ground, and this is a league containing Adrian Peterson. He just does not go down easily and the sheer volume of missed tackles he forced this year is a testament to that. He forced 31 more misses than the next best mark, that’s two per game.
He didn’t have the league’s best blocking, but he still averaged 2.6 yards per carry after contact, and despite 403 touches of the ball had an Elusive Rating of 70, shy only of Mark Ingram (who had a little over a quarter of the workload).
Lynch took a lot of negative press during the Super Bowl Media Week because he didn’t want to talk to the media. That isn’t who he is. He just gets on with the job of running the football and gaining as many yards for his offense as he can on every single opportunity he is given. There are many reasons the Seahawks were able to win the Super Bowl in 2013, but Marshawn Lynch is a big reason they were able to get there in the first place.
Marshawn Lynch is No. 10 in the PFF Top 101.
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