RELATED: PART 1- Beast Mode: Soul Model
Listen! It’s the sound of yet another beast-quake as Marshawn Lynch rumbles for six. Before the snap, even if you knew that the 5’10”, 215 pound running back was getting the rock, it still wouldn’t matter. Visualize Marshawn taking the handoff and moving to his left on a counter play. Slow down the tape and close your eyes. He then dips to the beat of an Oakland groove on a nose tackle, spins like Pearl Monroe to the 2nd power off a mike linebacker, and runs like Earl Campbell over a strong safety for one of the most electrifying twelve-yard touchdowns ever. Power-pellets, masquerading as Skittles fly everywhere, sky high to ground low, post haste, bouncing off the turf to a thunderous Beast Mode gifted bass.
He’s “just ‘bout that action boss.”
In a passing league, could Marshawn Lynch actually be underrated? Fans are now accustomed to seeing the football fly and final scores of some NFL games now register on scoreboards like old Big East college basketball affairs. These playoffs are on a different plane because of the formidable defenses we’ve seen. With that, it seems as if Beast Mode has become a secret weapon of sorts. Just when you think the ball is about to be aired deep, here he comes, off tackle.
It’s different when Sundays are impacted on the ground. Conventional wisdom says that a sound rushing attack is a young quarterback’s best friend. But in this today’s NFL, handing the ball off on three consecutive downs almost seems bizarre. Pete Carroll is wise enough to utilize Lynch within the Seahawks’ stellar zone blocking scheme because when a back averages four yards a carry, the sticks move.
Then there are the runs he breaks in the 4th quarter that change the complexion of the game. When defenses tire, he morphs into their worst nightmare. Lynch could have played in any era, because, as the Beast Mode chants rain down, the only thing he’s thinking of is putting the ball into the end zone.
His grill is reminiscent of Just-Ice, and now in the present, it seems that would-be tacklers are stuck in an unfortunate exercise of Cold Getting Dumb. You almost forget that he once ran roughshod for the Buffalo Bills, accumulating seasons of 1,115 and 1,036 yards respectively, to go along with 16 touchdowns when he was straight out of Cal. In 2010 he began to rock like thunder in the great northwest via a trade that had to happen, mainly due to his own missteps.
Now, it’s 2014 and with Seattle focused on doing the unforgettable on Sunday, there is no denying that Beast Mode is the team’s most efficient offensive force . He’s 52nd on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 7,389 yards and 63 total touchdowns. He is not one to run out of bounds. While most running backs receive punishment, he hands it out. The good thing is he has just has 1,753 rushing attempts. To put that number in perspective, the NFL’s career rushing leader, Emmitt Smith, had 2,334 carries over the same seven-year span.
With Seattle’s winning ways, he will continually be asked to win games late by keeping the ball away from the opposition. With Percy Harvin being the biggest question on Seattle’s offense, and considering the collective shoulder chips that inspire Seahawks receivers, the only constant is Beast Mode -- aside from the trending-up development of Russell Wilson. Even when the passing game is not succinct, Wilson’s running ability makes the defense account for him and complements Lynch. It’s often the cause of Marshawn getting out into the second wave against a stacked box.
Once that happens, defenders are literally left defenseless. They simply don’t know if he’s coming or going, and once would-be tacklers realize where he is, his stiff arm is in their metaphorical face.
From Pro Football Focus:
“This year Marshawn Lynch had 75 players miss tackles on him in the run game which was 17 more than any other back.”
When most people think of missed tackles, they envision LeSean McCoy’s pretty footwork or the strong yet shifty and speedy Adrian Peterson running through, around and over defenses. Beast Mode tops the list though. Further, in the Division Round against the Saints, 13 of New Orleans’ 15 missed tackles were attempts on Lynch. Add seven more missed tackles vs. the 49’ers in the NFC Championship, and the number moves to a NFL best season total of 95.
He rushed for 1,257 yards and 14 total touchdowns this season – which is pretty amazing considering the offensive line struggles that the team endured throughout the season. Nevertheless, defenses were left hanging their heads 15 times this season after the 4th quarter.
Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider assembled this team with the perfect mix of intelligence, brawn and athleticism. And it all starts with Beast Mode.
Derek Allen, a Spring, Texas transplant who was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington, tells it to me this way: “I wasn't a huge Marshawn Lynch fan to begin with as his legal problems preceded him. However, I noticed that he had an amazing motor with an even bigger heart. To me that is what he has done for this team; show how to play with heart. He inspires in me what Jim Valvano said on March 4, 1993, while receiving the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the first annual ESPY Awards. While announcing that ESPN was helping to launch the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer, he mentioned that their motto is: "Don’t give up, don’t ever give up." And that is what I think of when I see Marshawn Lynch make those amazing runs, seemingly once per game.”
Beast Mode. What is it? What is your definition? How does the sight of Marshawn Lynch getting the ball, facing insurmountable odds at the line of scrimmage, and still winning the down change you play by play? How will he be perceived, win or lose on Sunday? Will his ability to affect a football game be the sole reason he is remembered? "What if he wins the Super Bowl MVP as I suspect he will? Will he be the player headed to Disney World like most who've won the award? Does it matter? Before you answer, think for a moment of how the kids at Oakland Tech will be affected if he does for years to come.
Some change for the cameras, but the great thing about Marshawn Lynch is that he remains true to himself. Some speak as if their words are genuine and undeservedly receive fan and media adulation, while Lynch’s relationship with the media is austere and straight matter of fact. You’d best forget about all preconceived notions because to understand him is to listen to the sound of the ground he walks on.