Marshawn Lynch banked on strong finish

The recently re-signed Marshawn Lynch improved his financial outlook dramatically with a strong finish to the 2011 regular season.

Lynch led the NFL in rushing yardage over the final nine weeks. He was at his best even though the Seahawks kept losing offensive linemen. The team used three starting combinations over the final nine weeks.

Backup guard Paul McQuistan was the left tackle when Lynch ended the San Francisco 49ers' 36-game streak without allowing a 100-yard rusher. Seattle played its final four games with McQuistan at left tackle and Lemuel Jeanpierre at right guard. Breno Giacomini played well enough in relief at right tackle to earn a new contract and the inside track on starting in that spot for 2012.

The power and fury Lynch showed through his running style gave the Seahawks' offense a needed edge. Throw in his late-season production and Lynch went from potential marginal free agent to a player Seattle felt good about securing for more than one season.

I've broken out Lynch's production by down over the final nine weeks. That information is in the first chart below.


2011 NFL Rushing Leaders, Weeks 9-17

The second chart shows how players from the first chart fared in yards per carry by down. Lynch had consistent averages and yardage totals across first and second down.

Thanks to Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information for helping with the numbers.


Running Backs From First Chart, by Yards Per Carry (Weeks 9-17)