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Bills at Patriots: Marshawn Lynch

The Patriots rank 23rd in rush defense as measured by both DVOA and DRUN Efficiency and 24th by yards per attempt allowed. So, without better information to trump those stats, we can be pretty sure New England fields a below average run defense. The Bills rank sixth in yards per attempt, seventh in ORUN and 13th in DVOA, so without better information, we can be pretty sure the Bills field an above average run offense. By DYAR and Expected Points Added, Lynch is sandwiched between former teammate Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller as the second most valuable per rush back in Buffalo's backfield.

None of that is meant as definitive or an attempt to project Lynch's value to Seattle, but only to frame the analysis I am about to attempt. Lynch was the second best rusher on an above average rushing offense playing against a below average Patriots defense. From what I have watched, Lynch was used in more traditional running formations, I backfields and tight end sets, where Spiller was used in more spread formations and Jackson was used in more third down formations.

In week three's contest in Foxboro, Lynch received 13 of the Bills 24 total offensive rushes. Here's a detailed analysis of his performance.

1-10-BUF 20 (14:56) (Shotgun) 14-R.Fitzpatrick pass short right to 23-M.Lynch to BUF 27 for 7 yards (36-J.Sanders, 51-J.Mayo).

Lynch starts the game split wide in the right slot of a five wide set. The Patriots are in off coverage and Lynch is able to release into his route, a short curl, undefended. He catches, fails to redirect, struggles forward and finishes for seven. Exceedingly little to see here.

2-3-BUF 27 (14:21) 23-M.Lynch right guard to BUF 33 for 6 yards (51-J.Mayo).

Lynch works out of I formation left. He jab steps left and then cuts right and into and through the hole. He does not look explosive. He kind of glides, shoulders square, good footwork, never looking terribly fast but keeping his momentum directed forward. Lynch looks capable of bursting though the hole and adding yards in the second level, but Jarod Mayo ankle tackles him.


Spiller looks quicker, more explosive, but less powerful, more picky and more vulnerable.


3-3-BUF 40 (12:33) (Shotgun) 14-R.Fitzpatrick pass short right to 13-St. Johnson to NE 45 for 15 yards (25-P.Chung).

Lynch releases into a route on the right but does not factor.

1-10-NE 45 (11:52) 23-M.Lynch left tackle pushed ob at NE 29 for 16 yards (51-J.Mayo). WATCH HIGHLIGHT

Fullback Corey McIntyre seals the left edge and Lynch has a clean release into the second level. Before he can turn the corner, Brandon Spikes shoots the gap and chases Lynch from behind but Lynch outruns him left and Spikes is left trailing. Lynch is quick running diagonally and keeps his shoulders square, but there's a noticeable uptick in speed when he turns the corner and turns up field. He then slashes away from the safety closing from the third level, exploiting the Roscoe Parrish block, and, nearing the sideline, turns up field and again shows some burst before being forced out of bounds.

This seems to be a quintessential run from Lynch: Good vision, footwork, keeps his shoulders square, good speed to slash, but not a lot of get away speed.

[Time out]


Jackson looks plodding, yet ...

2-9-NE 28 (10:40) 23-M.Lynch right tackle to NE 21 for 7 yards (36-J.Sanders, 50-R.Ninkovich)

Lynch starts slight left but cuts back quickly right. He runs off right end between the tight end and the fullback, who has engaged Rob Ninkovich and staggered him. Ninkovich comes off the block and attempts to wrap Lynch high, and that proves fruitless. Lynch continues to churn his legs and eat yards until the Patriots gang tackle and the play is ruled dead. New England stops Lynch's forward progress but fail to wrap and tackle him.

Spiller subs, Fitzpatrick overthrows his receiver and the Bills kick a field goal to pull ahead 3-0.