Had to be only a matter of time before Marshawn Lynch needed hernia surgery.
I mean, consider the strain of carrying the Seahawks offense on his back for most of six seasons. They’re lucky he isn’t worn down like a swayback horse that’s been overloaded too long.
Hernia seemed inevitable. But it’s not necessarily the end for Lynch nor the Seattle offense.
Without him against San Francisco, the Seahawks offense had its most productive game of the season.
Behind the 209 rushing yards of rookie Thomas Rawls, the Hawks put together a season-high 508 yards (111 more than in any other game).
They also seemed to have cured some of their chronic ailments in the red zone and on third downs, and inconsistencies in the passing game.
Fan won’t have to wait too long in Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh to see if last week’s outburst was just a fortunate statistical aberration shaped against a weak opponent or if, in fact, the offense is trending upward, as coach Pete Carroll suggested this week.
Because yards against Pittsburgh will not be gained without being earned.
Against the Steelers, the Seahawks offense gets a chance to prove it can play with the big boys, and if the postseason hopes are legitimate as the schedule heads toward its final month.
Even the perpetually buoyant Carroll wasn’t totally sold after the San Francisco game.
“You look back and say, ‘OK, we’re on a little bit of a direction here that we like,’ so it’s hard to tell right now, but it feels like we’re making a good move in the right direction,” he said.
Lynch went east last week to have an abdominal issue surgically repaired. It was initially called a sports hernia, but Carroll hedged a bit on the hernia diagnosis, saying “the doc got in there and fixed a couple things and was able to really tack it down real nice.”
It might not even cost Lynch the rest of the season. It was hard to project how Lynch will respond because it reportedly was his first surgical procedure.
(Wouldn’t you love to ask the surgeon what he saw inside of Lynch? What’s in there, steel and bile and Skittles?).
At times in the past, the idea of life without Lynch would have sent Seahawks fans into trauma. After all, as Carroll said last week, “He’s always brought a great attitude and all of that … Beast Mode … he’s got a nickname, so obviously he’s done something.”
But the angst over Lynch’s abs was salved by the performance of Rawls, the Baby Beast, who has created excitement with his league-leading average of 6 yards per rushing attempt.
Rawls’ efforts and the apparent improvement of the offensive line with Patrick Lewis at center allowed the Hawks to regain the No. 1 position in the league in rushing.
The Steelers (6-4) are No. 5 in rush defense, so the pressure, once again, is on quarterback Russell Wilson and the passing game, ranked 27th in the NFL.
“(It’s) a 3-4 team, moving everybody around,” Carroll said of the Steelers defense. “Different guys coming at you (from) every angle that you can pressure … and they do it a lot.”
Wilson had one of the best games of his career against San Francisco, completing 82 percent of his passes with three touchdowns.
Although the Seahawks (5-5) have struggled against good teams, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin warned against viewing the Seahawks as an average team.
“Whatever their record is at this juncture is probably not going to define them,” Tomlin said. “I know it didn’t a year ago when they were somewhere around that at this juncture.”
That was a team with a healthy Lynch, and also led the NFL in rushing.
But Tomlin is right. Looking back at this point last season, the Hawks were even less effective passing the ball, ranking 31st in the league.
And if they’re going to redefine themselves the rest of the way, mounting an effective offense against the Pittsburgh Steelers will be a huge step.