Lynch Debate: Bills in trouble without RB

BFR's Ian Smith says that the Bills are in deep trouble if Marshawn Lynch is suspended for his arrest last week. This Part I of a BFR Debate...

It is becoming routine. When the news rolled across your bottom line on ESPN, you probably weren't surprised.

Marshawn Lynch was arrested…

On Feb. 11, the Bills franchise running back was arrested and charged with possession of a loaded firearm in public by Culver City California Police. The arrest came three days after leading the AFC in rushing during the Pro Bowl game.

Unfortunately for Lynch, it couldn't have come at a worse time.

Marshawn Lynch is the heart and soul of the Buffalo Bills. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. He is undeniably the keystone and centerpiece of the offense. In his two years in Buffalo, Lynch has accumulated 2,151 yards rushing with 16 total touchdowns. He epitomizes the hardscrabble city of Buffalo with his grind-it-out, never-go-down mentality. Marshawn Lynch is an icon in Western New York and one of the fresh faces of the National Football League.

With that being said, it is hard for me to accept the fact that Lynch is now seen a criminal in the eyes of the law. His first run-in with the police in May 2008 — in which he hit a woman with his car — left room for forgiveness, but two run-ins in one year is inexcusable.

The topic of "Athletes and Guns" runs much deeper than just Lynch. New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was charged with criminal possession of a handgun after shooting himself in a New York City nightclub five months ago.

Burress was subsequently suspended for the rest of the 2008 season (five games including playoffs).

With that in mind, Lynch should have recognized the situation he was getting himself into.

The one difference between Lynch and Burress is that the Giants organization cut to the chase and immediately suspended arguably their best player. Commissioner Roger Goodell may have its way with Lynch, and if it does, it might be more severe than what the Bills would have given him.

Depending on how draconian Goodell chooses to be, Buffalo's 2009 season might already be in jeopardy.

ESPN analyst Darren Woodson recently stated that Lynch is looking at an "at most four-game suspension." If this figure checks out to be true, the Bills can consider only a quarter-year suspension a victory in its own right. However, Goodell is looking to make examples out of two-time offenders by suspending them for a good amount of time, and Lynch is ripe for the picking.

No matter what his punishment may be, the Bills will surely miss him. You can quote me on this: if Marshawn Lynch misses more than four games due to these felony gun charges, the Buffalo Bills will not make the playoffs for the tenth consecutive season.

Backup Fred Jackson is a capable rusher, but there is little to no depth behind him. A Lynch-Jackson 1-2 punch is dangerous, a Fred Jackson-Xavier Omon one is not. And the Bills can ill afford to spend money or a high draft pick on a consistently contributing backup running back.

Without Marshawn Lynch, the offense will stall more often than it did last year. And that is an absolute shame considering the progress the running game made toward the end of last season.

Tomorrow: BFR Publisher Tyler Dunne says the Bills are just fine without Lynch.


Marijuana found in vehicle

Lynch arrested

Column from last year's hit-and-run (June 15)

Column from last year's hit-and-run (June 23)

And look back at all Marshawn Lynch stories on his player page

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