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Marshawn Lynch, before and after Russell Wilson

Synergy. It's the name of the game.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the simplest arguments that simple people make about why Russell Wilson "isn't that good" is that he's got an All-Pro running back and an all-world defense. It's hard to argue against the fact that Marshawn Lynch is amazing or that the defense isn't one of the best of all-time, but does QB talent have to be mutually exclusive with other people on the team being talented?

Of course not.

Wilson can be great. Lynch can be great. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor can all be great. It's not unusual to expect them all to look greater because of the greatness they're surrounded by. Got all that?


So why is it then that Lynch must be improving the play of Wilson moreso than the other way around? Why do we lean heavier on the belief that Wilson isn't under as much pressure because of Lynch instead of saying that Lynch has better running lanes to use because of Wilson? Or that the zone-read option, which wouldn't be a possibility without having a player like Wilson, isn't helping Lynch gain additional yardage or have more of an opportunity to showcase his best attributes?

I believe that Marshawn Lynch could retire today and still be in the Hall of Fame. In my opinion, when you measure everything that he's done over the last five years, when he's been the most consistent running back in the NFL (especially in the absences of Adrian Peterson) including both stats and highlights, then if Lynch is not a "Hall of Famer," who possibly could be?

However, I also don't think that Lynch would stand much of a chance of making the Hall of Fame, or being held quite in that same regard, if it wasn't for the fact that he was playing alongside a quarterback that made it easier for him to do what he does best. Plus there is the fact that Lynch played in two career playoff games in five years without Wilson compared to eight in the three years with Wilson, and won a Super Bowl ring.

That never hurts. Neither do these numbers:

With Wilson as his quarterback, Lynch has run the ball 896 times for 4,135 yards, scored 36 rushing touchdowns, and caught 96 passes for 879 yards and seven touchdowns. That's an average per season of 1,384 yards, 12 touchdowns, 4.6 yards per carry, 32 catches, 293 yards, two touchdowns, and 9.2 yards per catch.

In five seasons prior to playing with Wilson, when his quarterbacks in Buffalo and Seattle ranged from Trent Edwards to J.P Losman to Ryan Fitzpatrick to Old Matt Hasselbeck and Tarvaris Jackson, Lynch averaged 757 yards per season with six touchdowns a year on 4.0 YPC. He caught 24 passes for 170 yards per season and scored just two receiving touchdowns total over the first five years of his career.

The three biggest seasons of his career in terms of rushing yards and yards from scrimmage have all come over his three years of playing with Wilson.

In three playoff seasons with Wilson, Lynch has averaged 98 rushing yards per contest over eight games, scored eight touchdowns, and averaged 4.78 YPC. While Lynch's first career playoff game will always be one of the most memorable moments in NFL history, his second career playoff game was four carries for two yards against the Chicago Bears. In his last eight playoff games, all with Wilson, he's scored a touchdown in seven of those games and gained over 100 yards in six of those games.

In fact, Lynch has rushed for over 100 yards in 23 of his 56 games with Wilson compared to rushing for over 100 yards just 13 times in his 74 career games without Wilson. That's an average of reaching the century mark 41% of the time compared to 17.5% of the time.

The Seahawks appear to be playing in one of those rare windows where they have more great players than most teams are "allowed" to have. By paying Wilson almost nothing for four years, that helps them give guys like Lynch the raises they desire to keep going. Because it's about time to pay Wilson, that means that the window might be closing unless they can strike lightning in a draft bottle twice.

However, just because Lynch is great and deserves to be paid, it doesn't mean that Wilson doesn't deserve the same. Or that their relationship isn't much more mutually beneficial than what many people have been lead to believe.