What's slowing Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch down this season?

At the halfway point of the season, the Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch is averaging 3.64 yards per carry.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, that ranks 41st out of 49 qualifying players. And it's a marked drop-off from 2014 when Lynch averaged 4.66 YPC (13th).

There are plenty of theories floating around Seattle about why Lynch's production has slowed. Has it simply been the result of poor blocking? Is the sample size (103 carries) too small to draw any conclusions?

Or is it possible that Lynch, who missed two games with a hamstring injury, is showing the effects of a 1,181-carry workload over the previous four seasons, the most of any running back in the NFL during that span?

Below is a look at what the numbers suggest, along with what's working and what's not for Lynch.

* All numbers are courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, unless otherwise noted.


Yards before contact provides a good measure of how the blocking and the back's vision are working together. Lynch (1.74) ranks 44th out of 49 players in yards before contact. Last year, that number was 2.14 (25th). In other words, defenders are getting to him quickly, and the blocking/scheme have not been good enough. It's reasonable to expect the Seahawks to improve at least a little bit here in the second half of the year with the inexperienced offensive line getting more reps.

In the past, Lynch has made his name on yards after contact. Even when the blocking has been far from perfect, he's been able to run through defenders, break tackles and pick up big yardage. If and when Lynch starts to hit a wall, this is where the falloff will be most visible. Last year, Lynch averaged 2.53 yards after contact, second best in the NFL. This year, he's at 1.90, which ranks 22nd.

Overall, the numbers here suggest that the drop-off is due in part to blocking and in part to Lynch not gaining as many yards after contact.


The Seahawks are a zone-blocking team, but they switch up how they get to those runs. Both coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have been honest in explaining that they prefer less zone-read and more runs with Russell Wilson under center.

But Lynch has been far more effective with Wilson in the shotgun using the zone-read element. Forty-four of Lynch's carries have come with Wilson in the shotgun. He's averaged 4.57 YPC on those runs. Last year, the number was 4.88.

With Wilson under center, Lynch is averaging just 2.95 YPC; last year he was at 4.39. That's a huge drop-off.

Out of 12 personnel (one RB, two TEs), Lynch is averaging just 2.47 YPC. Last year, he was at 5.09 YPC. The Seahawks have not run the ball well out of this grouping.

Carroll and Bevell know what they want the run game to be, but in the past they've done a good job of adjusting to what's working. Coming out of the bye, it'll be interesting to see if the Seahawks spread teams out and go back to the zone-read or count on the blocking to improve on the under-center runs.


The Seahawks still want to be a run-first team. In many ways, getting Lynch going will be the key to a turnaround in the second half of the season.

The sense here is that the coaches don't fault Lynch for the drop-off in production. If at some point they feel like he's slowing down, chances are they'll mix Thomas Rawls in more. Rawls' 5.45 YPC ranks fifth in the NFL. And he's averaged 2.61 yards after contact (second).

The Arizona Cardinals have the No. 2 rushing defense in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. The Seahawks spent the bye week self-scouting, and we'll find out this Sunday night what the coaches think their best options are to get Lynch going.