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February 17, 2014 at 9:27 PM

Position overview: Tailback


We’ll continue our overviews of Seattle’s position groups with a look at the running backs, led by tailback Marshawn Lynch (above).



Marshawn Lynch

2014 contract status: Will be in third of four-year deal that will have a base of $5 million in 2014, with a cap hit of $7 million.

Comment: 2013 was another season in which the Seattle offense revolved around Lynch and the ability to establish a running game and set up play-action passes — the Seahawks led the NFL in play-action attempts throughout the season.

Lynch’s numbers were down in 2013 compared to 2012 — 1,257 yards in 301 attempts in 2013 for an average of 4.2 per carry compared to 1,590 yards on 315 attempts in 2012, 5.0 per carry.

But any thought that those numbers indicate that Lynch, who will turn 28 in April, has lost a step were betrayed by other statistical metrics — and simply watching him play. Given just a little room to run, Lynch had two of his best games in the playoffs against the Saints (140 on 28) and 49ers (109 on 22, becoming the only running back this year to rush for 100 or more yards against San Francisco.

And at the end of the regular season, Pro Football Focus wrote this about Lynch:

Among the top 32 qualifiers, Marshawn Lynch was just barely edged out by Adrian Peterson for best Elusive Rating on the season. Peterson finished with 64.6 to Lynch’s 63.8. Lynch, however forced 75 missed tackles in the run game, which beat the rest of the competition by a wide margin (2nd was 58).

Essentially, Lynch was as good as ever this season, which means about as good as there is in the NFL. And the Seahawks will almost certainly go into 2014 expecting more of the same.


Robert Turbin

2014 contract status: Turbin will be in the third year of his four-year rookie deal, due to make $570,000.’

Comment: Turbin’s numbers were all down a bit in 2013 from his rookie year in 2012. He rushed for 264 yards on 77 carries, 3.4 per attempt, compared to 354 on 80, 4.4 per attempt, in 2012. But as with Lynch, the struggles of the offensive line undoubtedly contributed — each had almost the same drop in per-carry average, which doesn’t seem a coincidence given the issues up front throughout the season. He was also used a lot less out of the backfield — eight receptions in 2013 compared to 19 in 2012.

Coaches didn’t indicate there was any real reason for that other than simply how things worked out, and they never showed any lack of confidence in Turbin, as he remained the backup tailback all season — his blocking is an underrated reason he hung on to that role ahead of 2013 second-round pick Christine Michael.

Turbin had a rockier time returning kicks, fumbling one away in the home loss to Arizona and then never returning kicks again the rest of the season (including post-season).

With the team having made a big investment in Michael in terms of his draft standing, Turbin will have heavy competition in 2014 to hang onto to the backup tailback spot in what shapes up as one of the most intriguing position battles this summer.


Christine Michael

2014 contract status: Will be in the second season of his four-year rookie contract, due to make $558,383.

Comment: Michael, who was the first player the team picked in the 2013 draft (with the first-rounder dealt for Percy Harvin) played sparingly in 2013. He played in only four games, and was inactive six times, and in every post-season game (he was inactive in seven of the last eight games overall).

Michael showed some flashes when he did get in the game, carrying 18 times for 79 yards. All of it came in garbage time, though, against Jacksonville, Atlanta and Minnesota, making it hard to really judge. Coaches said Turbin’s experience, special teams ability and blocking were the reasons he was ahead of Michael on the depth chart in 2013. Michael will need to show progress in all those areas this year in what looms as a critical season for his career.


This is another spot where there’s the potential for not much change in 2014. Lynch is set as the starter, and Turbin and Michael are each young and cheap. Still, the Seahawks do have to begin preparing for the post-Lynch era, and while it was somewhat of a surprise last year that they took Michael where they did, it might be less of one this year if they reached for a tailback somewhere in the draft to add some competition and future options. Michael looms as the most intriguing player of 2014 at this spot. As noted, Seattle went a little outside of the box in taking him where it did in 2013 (he was the 62nd overall pick). As a rookie with proven players ahead of him, he gets sort of a pass for not playing much in 2013. But the team will be expecting more in 2014.


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