So of course as it tends to do here in Seahawk kingdom the arrival of a new back and a serious star in the league has every Alexander hater talking about the 3000 yards Marshawn Lynch could have gotten behind said hall of fame line. I'm not really here to debate the merits of that, but it's key to why I'm making this post. I post on another forum with casual and hardcore fans and as an idea to provide content I wanted to look at Curt Warner's 200 yards in 1983 against the Kansas City Chiefs and Shaun Alexander's 200 yards against the Green Bay Packers in 2006. I was going to do a side by side comparision of each back and see the special things that allowed them to put up their numbers.
Unfortunately for me, I was unable to locate my copy of the Green Bay game and frustrated by this I dug through my pile of DVDs over and over. I decided to watch the NFC championship game, using it as a refersher to the kind of runner Shaun was. The style was there. It was a fun watch. It was also eye-opening to see how many runs were created from nothing in that game by Shaun's quick decisions and ability to cut back side of where the play went.
I'm not here to throw praise at Alexander, I'm here to ask a question based on something I saw that spoke to how valuable Shaun's play was that day. The line had real trouble getting any push what so ever. I counted 8 plays where Shaun cut away from the line when no hole arrived. I only counted the value of those plays at 41 yards of the 31 runs and 132 yards gained.
The set of plays that stood out were mapped like this. It was the opening drive for the Seahawks and they were driving. I'm going to go point by point starting at 13:00 in the third quarter if any of you have the game and would like to follow along.
Q3: 13:00: A strong side Stretch is called and the Panthers defend it well there is no hole and Dan Morgan has the tackle for a short loss. However as Shaun Watches the play develop he sees Robbie Tobeck has cleared a cutback lane with a wicked block backside he slips in behind the wash of defenders for a gain of seven. It's a simple play, it was 2nd and 1 so attacking the hole for no gain probably doesn't hurt the hawks here, but the next play illustrates exactly why that run was so huge.
Q3: 12:27: Another strong side Stretch play is called and this time the Sehawks block it well and Shaun has a hole for a 15-yard gain. However, Dan Morgan who had the last play bottled up so well is in good position to make the tackle for minimal gain. Shaun is following Mack through the hole and Morgan having stopped his feet seeming to question Shaun's commitment to the hole gets obliterated by Mack Strong and Shaun has the big gain easily.
Q3 11:15 Shaun went out for a play and came back in on 2nd and 10 This is a simple play action with a D-Jack double move and unfortunately for Chris "I poop the bed sometimes" Gamble he tried to jump the route and got burned for a 20-yard TD.
So now I watch this all unfold. I think of all the times Shaun made something small result in something bigger later on and I think to myself, can Lynch do these small things? Can he make something from nothing? Are we just hoping for him to bulldoze his own holes or can he make his own plays and have a defense questioning their commitment and responsibilities? I remembered watching Julius Jones highlight reel against us in from 2006 and every fan it seemed in the pudget sound loved the move.
231 yards if I remember right and how this was a guy that could make things happen.I thought it too. However in the end, He wasn't remarkable in the least. The Irony is, if you look up Marshawn Lynch highlights the Seahawks are one of the bigger highlights from his 2008 campaign. So? Do we have another back with a wicked highlight reel? Or something more? It's tough to know.