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Key Statistic of the Week: Running Back Drops

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Pro Football Focus put out an article recently that gives us an interesting look at drop percentage by running backs in the last three seasons. Marshawn Lynch is unfortunately near the bottom of both of that list. According to their data, Lynch has dropped 16 passes out of 113 catchable throws in the last three seasons (14.16%). This isn't entirely surprising; running backs generally aren't known for their pass-catching abilities (though if they are it makes them very dangerous) but knowing he's statistically near the bottom of that list doesn't instill a whole bunch of confidence that Lynch is the best option in the swing pass and 3rd down game. Dump-offs and swing passes are pretty prevalent in the Seahawk offense, and you even see our running backs motioning out onto the wing a lot as well to run routes. This practice has always bugged me a little bit in principle as most people know that the average running back is sub-six-foot and has rocks for hands. 

To counteract Lynch's drops in the passing game though you typically see Washington and Forsett in on 3rd down or passing situations because they're just more versatile out of the backfield. Another option used at times and something I hope to see the increased use of would be the expanded use of the H-back position with John Carlson, Cameron Morrah, and possibly even Jameson Konz. When you have guys like this that can set up in the backfield but motion out to the wing or into the slot and run routes - and actually be a weapon catching passes -, it's just one more wrinkle that can confuse defenses and it's something the Hawks have the personnel for.

Regardless, the point of this post is not to rag on Lynch. As a lot of you may already know, I like Lynch and feel comfortable with him as our starting running back. It's not a surprise to me that he drops passes. Though he's not Jerry Rice, he's not inept - and can be effective enough with the dump off and occasional swing pass. What I would like to see more of is what I mentioned above - Cameron Morrah lining up on the wing and running routes. Jameson Konz in the backfield and running drags or curl routes. You don't have to get cute and do a bunch of trick plays, but exploiting your player's strengths creatively is how you create mismatches and gain an advantage.