Running Back Change-Up

According to Adam Schefter (who I’m pretty sure never sleeps and has had his Blackberry surgically implanted in his brain), Marshawn Lynch is now a Seahawk.  Apparently this trade was supposed to happen last week, but Buffalo held back at the last minute.  To make room for him and Chester Pitts, G Evan Dietrich-Smith and RB Julius Jones have been released.  For those of you who have been crossing your fingers for Jones to be cut, you may now pop your champagne corks.

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This may earn me a beating, but Julius Jones wasn’t a horrible running back. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry in ”08 and 3.7 ypc in ’09, and he had reasonably okay hands as an outlet receiver.  When he cut-blocked a blitzer, you knew it because suddenly someone was upside-down and airborne — just like his brother Thomas, really.

So no, Jones wasn’t all bad, he just wasn’t anything special, either.  Jones didn’t make a lot of tacklers miss.  He ran hot and cold, alternating good showings with frustrating performances.  Sometimes he liked to mimic Shaun Alexander’s forgettable later years by just running into the backs of his offensive linemen and giving up whenever the assigned running lane closed up or failed to open.  The joke about Jones during his four seasons in Dallas was that he’d misheard Lombardi’s maxim “run to daylight” as “run to darkness.”

Justin Forsett is shifty, Leon Washington is fast, and Michael Robinson is tough and versatile;  Jones’ strength was that he was predictably average, and as it turns out that’s just good enough to help your team lose by a few less points each week.

Marshawn Lynch, on the other hand, has been pretty solid.  The last three years he’s posted ypc averages of 4.0, 4.1, and 3.8, and he’s the sort of runner who can lower his shoulder and open his own holes if the o-line fails to deliver.  So far this year he’s sitting pretty on 4.4 ypc on 37 attempts, and it isn’t like Buffalo’s o-line is playing any better than Seattle’s.  If this doesn’t give the running game a boost, I don’t know what will.

Of course, Buffalo wouldn’t have parted with a ball carrier as dependable as Lynch without cause, and he’s given them plenty.  Tim Ruskell would’ve eaten glass before signing a guy with a history like his.  Granted, a change of scenery has helped more than one knot-head in the NFL to wake up and change their off-field behavior, but I’d be lying if I told you I thought Lynch was likely to straighten up and fly right just because he got traded cross-country.  Still, he should be fun to watch for however long the league allows him to play.

Finally, allow me to present you with our own Chris Sullivan’s nickname suggestion for Seattle’s new backfield trio of Lynch, Forsett, and Washington:  Smash, Gash, and Flash.  Feel free to make fun of him in the comments.  (Sorry Chris, but I couldn’t resist.)