Grading the Seahawks at midseason: RBs Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Rawls & Fred Jackson

With the Seahawks off this week on bye and the club's regular season at the halfway point, it is a logical time for midseason grades.

Each position is assigned a classic "A-F" grade as is each individual player. A's are rewarded for exemplary Pro Bowl-caliber play. B's are given for very good to good play - better than the league average. C's are given for average play and D's for significantly below average play. Failing grades are reserved for players who, frankly, shouldn't be on the roster. 

The quarterbacks were graded earlier. Next up is Marshawn Lynch and the running backs. 

Running Back: When he's been on the field, Lynch has shown little drop-off from the dominant performer that drove the Seahawks to the past two Super Bowls. He's demonstrated the same remarkable combination of vision, balance, burst and toughness, consistently initiating contact and driving through it for additional yardage. Though he rarely gets much credit besides for his stellar running, Lynch has also been quite good as a pass-catcher and in picking up blitzes - as he was asked to do on multiple occasions in Seattle's Week 8 win over the Dallas Cowboys. After fumbling four times a year ago (including once in the postseason), Lynch has yet to put the ball on the ground in 2015.

That said, the numbers say that Lynch's game has dropped off. He is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry and has only one game of 100+ rushing yards this season (and that came in the drubbing of the San Francisco 49ers). Lynch has just one carry this season of over 17 yards (it went for 24 in the season-opening loss to the St. Louis Rams) and has already missed two full games due to injury. At the midway point this year, Lynch has 375 rushing yards and two scores. Last year at the same time, he had 549 rushing yards and eight scores.

Behind Lynch's powerhouse running, the Seahawks rank second in the NFL with an average of 139.5 rushing yards per game. Certainly the offensive line deserves some of the credit for this. So too does rookie running back Thomas Rawls, who has performed brilliantly when called upon, including in the first two starts of his career against the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Using a style that has earned comparisons to Lynch, Rawls has surprised opponents with his aggression and physicality, charging into defenders rather than attempting to elude them. He's shown enough vision and acceleration to create chunk plays and exhibited impressive balance to absorb a hit and keep his balance on the 69-yard touchdown run against Cincinnati that remains Seattle's longest play from scrimmage of the year.

Rawls was so effective that some called for him to get carries at Lynch's expense. Rawls is hungry and legitimately talented but he's not a back defenders fear like they do Lynch, though as the NFL.com video above comparing his jaunt against the Bengals to the ultimate BeastMode run shows, he is certainly worthy of playing time.

Some were surprised with the fact that Seattle entrusted the starting role to Rawls rather than Fred Jackson, but the reality is the former Buffalo Bills standout is currently at his best as a change-up option due to his linear build and slashing running style contrasting so sharply with the more compact Lynch. Jackson possesses soft hands and excellent hand-eye coordination, which is why he's caught significantly more passes (17 for 152 yards and a touchdown) than he's rushed the ball (11 carries for 54 yards).

Given that he hasn't carried the ball since signing with the Seahawks a week ago, it isn't fair to grade Bryce Brown. He's going to have a hard time sticking with this team because of the talent already ahead of him on the depth chart. Barring an injury to Lynch, Rawls or Jackson, Brown is among the more susceptible players to being released should the team need depth elsewhere.

Marshawn Lynch's Grade: B+

Thomas Rawls' Grade: B

Fred Jackson's Grade: B-

Overall Position Grade: B


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