Tom Cable is the Seahawks coach that may be closest to Marshawn Lynch.
So when the veteran offensive line coach, Seattle run-game coordinator and former head coach of Lynch’s hometown Oakland Raiders sends a message on what the 29-year-old running back needs to do if and when he ever gets back from Nov. 25 abdominal surgery, it means something.
It was definitely interesting to hear Cable’s answer Wednesday when I asked him if he was counting on Lynch to be back for the playoffs. For the Seahawks those begin Jan. 9 or 10.
“I think we are counting on him to get healthy, whenever that is. And then when that happens is for him to be able to come back in and adapt to this football team,” Cable said. “In the way it is, the way it acts and the way it’s moving right now, collectively.
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“That will be his challenge. But right now his number-one thing is getting healthy.”
Lynch adapting to the Seahawks? That’s how much has changed on Seattle’s offense during this five-game winning streak, which began the day Lynch missed the Nov. 22 game against San Francisco because of his sports-hernia-like injury and the first surgery of his nine-year career.
From when then-first-year coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schnieider traded with Buffalo for Lynch in the middle of the 2010 season until he began missing games this October, the Seahawks revolved around Lynch. He was the foundation of Carroll’s power-running, ball-control game. And it sure worked: he led the NFL in rushing and touchdowns from 2011 until the beginning of this season, and the Seahawks went to the last two Super Bowls, winning one and coming within one more carry for Lynch from the 1-yard line of winning the second.
But since Lynch went out for this abdominal issue Russell Wilson has taken over as the offense’s foundation. In these last five weeks while Lynch has been in Philadelphia for surgery and rehabilitation and now training in the Bay Area with “his people,” Carroll said, Wilson has become the first NFL player to throw three touchdown passes with zero interceptions in five consecutive games. Behind Cable’s suddenly transformed, effective line Wilson has 19 touchdown passes in those five games. Plus, Christine Michael and Bryce Brown filled in for Lynch and also-injured rookie Thomas Rawls by rushing for 182 yards last weekend against Cleveland. That’s how Seattle has stayed atop the league in rushing offense.
This is not at all the same team for which last played, Nov. 15 against Arizona. That is the Seahawks’ last loss.
Carroll won’t commit to Lynch getting back for the playoffs, saying Wednesday “it’s possible” and again adding the longer Seattle advances obviously the more likely it is Lynch will play again this season. So how much of a challenge will that be for him to adjust when and if he returns?
“I think if he’s right and ready to go and all that ... I’ve said this before: he’s a fine football player,” Cable said. “So it’s his ability to adapt to us, really. Who we are and how we’ve kind of come together as a group and a team.
“I see us being a little more detailed. I see us playing at a very high tempo. Accepting challenges. Overcoming issues when they come up in a game or a practice. I think we are growing up, in a big way.”