I was planning on saving Marshawn Lynch for much later in this series, but then I read this article by ESPN’s John Clayton and it got me thinking. Clayton mentions briefly that he expects Marshawn Lynch to begin his slow age-related decline next season, though he only expects Lynch to lose about 200 yards of production over the course of the year.
Oddly, while I agree with Clayton that Lynch will likely be less productive in 2013 than he was in 2012, I don’t at all agree on the reasoning as to why that’ll happen. I also expect a larger decrease in production than what Clayton predicted.
Personally, I don’t buy that Lynch is ready to begin declining to do age. We’re a full season too early to begin considering that. There are lots of factors that go into when a RB begins declining, and age is only one of them.
More important is the wear and tare the RB’s body has taken. There have been plenty of studies that have shown that the number of carries a RB has had is a better predictor than age for when the RB will begin declining. Thanks to the Bills giving up on Lynch early in his carrier, his total number of carries is rather low for a RB at his age.
The other major factor in determining when a RB starts his decline is major injuries. Basically, the more injuries a RB has had, the sooner you can expect them to start showing signs of aging. Lynch has been amazingly durable throughout his career, and has none of the injuries that would lead to a early decline in ability.
Put those 2 factors together, and I just don’t expect to see Lynch begin any major age related decline anytime soon.
What I do expect to see is a reasonable reduction in Lynch’s workload. He has battled a chronic back problem since before he joined the Seahawks, and the team can manage that problem by decreasing his number of carries. Lynch also wore down a bit by the end 2012, and the Seahawks will want him able to unleash his full power “beast mode” in the playoffs, and that will require a decrease in the number of carries Lynch will get in the regular season.
This is where Christine Michael comes in. His selection in the 2nd round of the draft signaled that Lynch was likely to have to give up a few of his carries in 2013. This will happen in some games more than others, but Michael will get his carries, and they’ll take a toll on Lynch’s stats.
It doesn’t even have to be a large number of carries to have a major impact. If Michael gets 5 just carries per game on average, that’s 80 on the season. That’s also about 350 yards of production that he’ll take away from Lynch.
If you take that number from Lynch’s 2012 stats, you end up with 1240 rushing yards. That is still a decent season, and it’s about what I expect from Lynch in 2012. That’s a big drop from the 1590 yards Lynch had last year, and also significantly less that the 1400 predicted for 2013 by Clayton. It’s also wont be a sign that Lynch is in some sort of age-related decline.
The Seahawks are at their best when Lynch is at his best. You know it. I know it. The Seahawks know it. Expect the Seahawks to make sure that he is at his best when the playoffs begin.