BFR Debate: Bills must feature Lynch

Marshawn Lynch was the starter last year, but does Fred Jackson deserve consideration as the No. 1 back? In Part I of this debate, BFR's Adam Beilman says Lynch must be the featured back...

One of the staples of the Dick Jauron era in Buffalo (aside from 7-9 seasons) has been "high-character" players. Bills running back Marshawn Lynch, if nothing else, certainly is a character.

Lynch is a Jekyll-and-Hyde sort of player; a great person and teammate to be around, not a great person to take a stiff arm from. He's a sort of class clown of the offense and is always good for a sound byte, but countless mauled would-be tacklers have lain in his wake.

Between his special ability on the gridiron and his happy-go-lucky leadership, Marshawn Lynch needs to be the featured back in the Bills offense.

The raw numbers may not support the notion that Lynch is a cut above his backfield brethren, but the fact of the matter is that Lynch is the plow that clears the way for the entire offense. Lynch steps on the field at the start of every game against 11 fresh defenders bent set on bringing him down, but within a few plays it requires four or five of them to do so. Frequent doses of "Beast Mode" can bruise linebackers and batter defensive backs, opening up the rest of the offensive playbook.

Fred Jackson averaged 4.4 yards per carry compared to Lynch's 4.1 this season, but Jackson received most of his carries (aside from the final game of the season against New England) late in games against the bloodied survivors of Lynch's wrath. If Lynch didn't need to stop for oxygen, the Bills could continue to dance with the back that brought them, but somebody needs to step in and reap the fruits of his labor. Kyle Williams could probably carry for four yards per with the holes that can open up in those situations.

Jackson is a great change-of-pace back, and that should be his role on this team. The Bills could even put him in a split-back set with Lynch to really confound defenses. Lynch, however, needs to provide an identity for an offense that has at times appeared clueless. The Bills were 1-5 in games which saw Lynch getting less than 15 carries, including two games where Trent Edwards was not healthy. Turk Schonert's underuse of Lynch in the offense and his preference to get cute (especially with the shotgun) probably cost the Bills more than one game this season.

The Bills drafted Lynch with their first pick in 2007 so that he could be the featured back. Combine his talent with the awe-inspiring girth of the offensive line, and there is no reason (barring injury) Lynch couldn't or shouldn't get 300-plus carries in 2009. Without sufficient Beast Mode, Turk Schonert's offense often finds itself in least mode.

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