When it comes to running backs, we Seattle Seahawks fans are still haunted by the ghost of 2006 Shaun Alexander. It’s easy to get caught up in the “hitting a wall” talk, but the numbers just don’t support Marshawn Lynch running into any kind of imaginary barrier any time soon.
Let’s take a closer look at other aging elite running backs with a similar power running style to the Beast, and their numbers between ages 26-30.
2009 – 1120 yds, 4.9 YPC, 10 TDs
2010 – 852 yds, 4.2 YPC, 3 TDs (Injury shortened season)
2011 – 1211 yds, 4.3 YPC, 8 TDs
2012 – 1214 yds, 4.7 YPC, 8 Tds
2013 – 1128 yds, 4.1 YPC, 9 TDs
2008 – 1042 yds, 4.1 YPC, 7 TDs
2009 – 1416 yds, 4.4 YPC, 4 TDs
2010 – 1241 yds, 3.8 YPC, 6 TDs
2011 – 1145 yds, 4.4 YPC, 5 TDs
2012 – 1045 yds, 4.1 YPC, 4 TDs
2000 – 1435 yds, 4.6 YPC, 7 TDs
2001 – 1315 yds, 3.9 YPC, 10 TDs
2002 – 1311 yds, 4.2 YPC, 7 TDs
2003 – 541 yds, 3.9 YPC, 2 TDs (Injury shortened season)
2004 – 1635 yds, 4.7 YPC, 12 TDs
Not too shabby…
All of these backs were productive up to age 30. And while you do see a slight decrease in yards as they approach the big three-oh (with the exception of Dillon), their YPC didn’t change significantly over the five years, meaning that their slight dip in yards had more to do with decreased carries than it did with decreased ability.
But the best example is one of the greatest power backs of all time, Washington Redskins (sorry NCAI) star, John Riggins. Riggins is the NFL’s all time leader in rushing yards after turning 35, running for 1239 yds and 12 TDs in 1984, (Second on the list is Emmitt Smith, also a power back).
All this goes to show that elite power runners just don’t age like the rest of their running back counterparts, and that Lynch has at least a few elite years left.
A few last points:
- Marshawn’s own numbers at 27 showed no signs of decline, with 1573 total yds (career 2nd best) and 14 total TDs (career best).
- He made it clear that money was an important factor for him with his off-season holdout. He will be wanting to prove that he can still be elite before the end of the 2015 season when he becomes a free agent so he can get one last big contract at 29.
- Marshawn has great vision, and a mindset of refusing to go down unlike any back in the NFL, qualities immune to the forces of aging.
Sleep easy Seahawks fans, the ghost has been laid to rest.
What do you guys think?