- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
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A weekly look at a player whose performance must improve in 2011.
We all saw Marshawn Lynch's amazing run in the NFC playoffs to put away New Orleans. It was truly something. He played a great game overall. I give him credit for that, but I also think we have to acknowledge that New Orleans' defense was battered and worn down. So, why is Lynch in this Pressure Point series? He has been a disappointing player over the past few seasons, and Seattle needs more games resembling that wild-card victory from Lynch.
Lynch's running conditions over the past several seasons have been far from ideal in Seattle and Buffalo. Last season, the Seahawks had some of the very worst run blocking in all of football. Lynch played four games with the Bills, and Buffalo's run blocking wasn't much better. I am not implying that Lynch is a bad running back. But I do believe he is exceedingly average. Given the Seahawks' roster, the team needs more from its running game, which was just terrible last year. Lynch ran for only 573 yards in his 12 regular-season games with Seattle, for a 3.5 yards per carry average. That won't do.
Lynch is more effective as an every-down runner and, at his best, he can wear down a defense. But he just doesn't do a good enough job of creating on his own when the blocking is sub-par. He becomes a lateral runner instead of a bulldozer. He too often gets what is blocked and nothing more. I don't think Justin Forsett is an every-down runner. I do think that Forsett is the better player of the two and deserves a lot more touches. I would incorporate Forsett more into the rushing attack. His style complements Lynch's well. Seattle also just invested in Leon Washington. Incorporating him more as an offensive weapon would be a smart move. As the Seahawks go to more and more of a West Coast attack, a running back that can be a receiving threat is more important than ever. Lynch's reception totals have dropped each of the past two years.
With all the team needs Seattle has, I would not use a lot of resources on the running back position right now. The offensive line needs a lot of work, and there already rumors of interest in Oakland's Robert Gallery. Adding Gallery next to Russell Okung could quickly turn around the situation up front. But if Lynch doesn't step up his game in 2011, I would look for a back one year from now.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.