SEATTLE – The Seattle Seahawks have finally reached a point where it won’t be quite so awkward to be face-to-face with their ex for the first time.
That works out very well for them, as they’ve finally found their running game again in time for their first regular-season matchup against former star running back Marshawn Lynch and the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium in a 10 a.m. (PDT) game that will be broadcast on Q13 FOX.
Coach Pete Carroll, for one, is excited.
“We went through a lot together,” Carroll said last week. “I have tremendous respect for that guy. It’d be fun playing against him. I like playing against guys I like.”
Carroll had plenty to like about Lynch, of course. Lynch rushed for more than 1,000 yards four time in Seattle and was the heart and soul of a team that won one Super Bowl and memorably lost another.
After retiring at the end of the 2015 season, Lynch came back to play for his hometown Raiders. He rushed for 891 yards last season, and is at 331 through five games this season – including 130 against the Browns two weeks ago.
“He looks really good,” Carroll said. “He looks healthy and aggressive and he wants the ball more, you can tell that. His running style and everything about him – he’s caught some balls, and it’s a well-rounded offense for him. With Tom Cable there as well and knowing how to bring out his strengths, they’ve got a nice running game and he looks great.”
Seattle struggled mightily to replace Lynch on the field. Quarterback Russell Wilson was by far their leading rusher last season, and he was the second-leading rusher in 2016 – trailing only Thomas Rawls’ paltry 349 yards.
For Wilson, the matchup against Lynch is a reminder of a group of players that are almost entirely gone from the team.
“Marshawn and I, we were always close in the sense that – he was never one to talk to too much around me necessarily, but we also talked a lot about life and ball and everything else,” Wilson said. “I think that he had a lot of wisdom in the sense of how to do things, and he was such a great team player, do whatever it takes. Those are the things that I remember the most.
“He was always laughing, he was always relaxed, he was always poised. He always knew how to play the game and play the game the right way.”
Carroll said he had Lynch in his sites for months before the Seahawks finally traded a fourth-round pick and a conditional pick from him in October of 2010.
“I bugged (general manager John Schneider) for months and months to keep making those phone calls,” Carroll said. “So when he got here, he got a fresh start. And man, he took it. He took the opportunity and went with it, and fit in exactly the way I’m talking about now – I should’ve been talking the same way then because I felt the same way about it – the need for a guy to bring the attitude and the intensity and the focus and the toughness. He was all of that.”