After spending more than a year away from football, Marshawn Lynch returned home to Seattle prior to last week's NFC West title showdown against San Francisco.
Despite ultimately losing 26-21 to the 49ers, "Beast Mode" led the Seahawks with 12 carries and rushed for 34 yards, including scoring his first touchdown at CenturyLink Field in more than four years.
Since his last regular season game with the Seahawks back in November 2015, Lynch was expected to undergo a bit of a learning process joining the team on such short notice. But the 12-year-pro appears to have turned the corner understanding a new playbook in his second week back in action.
Following Thursday’s practice, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer told media members he feels Lynch is beginning to feel more comfortable with his assignments on offense, which should translate into a successful performance on Sunday in Philadelphia.
“I think the playbook is a little more open with him in terms of the things that we can do. I think he’s a little more comfortable,” Schottenheimer explained. “He’s much more comfortable this week, so there’s things he can do from a pass protection standpoint.”
Schottenheimer admitted Lynch certainly felt a little uncomfortable with a few of the plays that they ran against the 49ers on Sunday. But he also indicated that those same concerns shouldn’t become an issue during this week’s playoff matchup against the Eagles.
“Obviously, some that he maybe he wasn’t very comfortable with last week,” Schottenheimer discussed. “It’s week two, a week that he’s more comfortable with the terminology and just kind of playing the position with the guys that we got, especially the blocking unit up front.”
For any running back, feeling comfortable with your offensive line is a top priority each player hopes to accomplish during a full season. Since Lynch returned to Seattle just last week, the iconic fan favorite has been forced to become familiar with his front line in a matter of days.
Thankfully for the Seahawks, Lynch appeared to be improving chemistry with the rest of the offense throughout the practice week. As Russell Wilson explained to the media prior to Thursday’s practice, Lynch has performed extremely well since his return.
“He looks great. He had a great first week for him to step in there,” Wilson said. “Just to watch him dive over that pile for the touchdown was pretty special. Marshawn looks great.”
Just as Wilson mentioned on Thursday, Lynch’s touchdown run against the 49ers ignited everyone in the crowd and fired up the Seahawks' sideline as well. With Seattle unable to secure a home playoff game, they’ll need Lynch to recreate that same energy on the road during their playoff run.
Following Friday's final walkthrough practice, coach Pete Carroll confirmed to the media Lynch looked even better than his first week back in Seattle and unlike last week, he'll be ready to handle a full game plan.
"He had a really good week, it seemed like it was smooth for him all the way throughout. He felt really good throughout all the practices and all the reps he needed to take," Carroll stated. "It feels really does feel different than it was a week ago."
If Lynch is able to perform better this week against the Eagles, the Seahawks shouldn't have any issues establishing their running game on Sunday during the opening round of the playoffs, giving them a fighting chance to advance to the next round.