Is Marshawn Lynch a Future Hall of Famer?
Maybe his personality is the reason he's not talked about enough in elite running back conversations. I mean, we know most in the media probably can't stand him for his short, silly answers to serious on-the-field questions. That can't help his perception, right?
But Marshawn Lynch, regardless of how you feel about his style off the field, is insanely good on it. And, really, he may Hall-of-Fame good.
Back in December, our own Graham Barfield dissected Lynch's production, noting that the Seahawks' back has been the best running back in the NFL over the last three years. It's really hard to argue otherwise -- in terms of Rushing Net Expected Points, Lynch has ranked third, eighth and first among high-volume running backs over the last three seasons.
His numbers, though, are actually even more impressive than that. And that's what makes him an interesting Hall of Fame choice.
Regular Season Body of Work
The NFL Hall of Fame has inducted seven running backs who started their career after 1980. Considering 29 modern era backs are in the Hall of Fame, that's not exactly a ton.
Each of these running backs clearly had top-notch careers and, to be honest, Marshawn Lynch doesn't really stand out compared to them when looking at raw regular season data.
|Games||Att||Yds||Y/A||TD||Y/G||Rec.||Rec. Yds||Rec. TDs|
Compared to the most recent Hall of Fame backs, Lynch ranks dead last in carries and rushing yards, and second-to-last in rushing touchdowns. This is kind of to be expected considering his career is still going.
Rate-wise, he ranks fourth of eight in yards per carry, fifth in rushing yards per game and, not shown above, fourth in rushing touchdowns per game.
It's tough to send someone to the Hall of Fame because his rates are better than players within the Hall though. Sustained success and longevity in the league is key, which is mostly what you see from the running backs listed above.
But something else that's important to getting into the Hall of Fame is success in the postseason, which is really what Lynch's case is all about.
We've watched Marshawn Lynch go beast mode many times in the playoffs, and his numbers reflect just that. Take a look at them versus the other Hall of Fame runners mentioned above.
Among the Hall of Fame running backs, Lynch ranks fourth in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in the postseason. His yards-per-carry average in the playoffs is second to only Marcus Allen, while his touchdowns-per-game rate sits only behind Emmitt Smith and Thurman Thomas (this includes receiving touchdowns).
When considering every running back in the history of the game, Lynch comes in 13th in total rushing yards and 14th in yards per game in the playoffs. That per-game ranking may not look fantastic (after all, the playoffs are a big reason this article even exists), but the only players listed ahead of him who played in at least five playoff games are John Riggins (Hall of Famer), Eric Dickerson (Hall of Famer), Emmitt Smith (Hall of Famer) and a very interesting comparison -- Terrell Davis.
If Davis Is Deserving, Is Lynch Too?
As of today, Lynch doesn't have the longevity to get into the Hall of Fame. He does, however, have strong playoff numbers -- numbers that at least put him in some sort of Hall of Fame conversation, whether it's about him being a lock or simply a fringe Hall of Fame player.
Terrell Davis, who's a Hall of Fame finalist this season, actually has a similar career profile to Lynch. While he's a household name, Davis actually only played four seasons in the NFL at a high level -- he played seven total in the league, but three of the seven saw him receive just 67, 78 and 167 carries.
Davis is best known for his 1998 season, where he rushed for 2,008 yards and scored 21 rushing touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch doesn't exactly have that ridiculous of a season under his belt, but when you compare Davis' four regular seasons -- the years that made him a Hall of Fame finalist -- to Marshawn's four with Seattle, the numbers aren't dramatically far off.
|Attempts||Yards||TDs||Rec.||Rec. Yards||Rec. TDs||YPC||TDPG|
Davis does beat Lynch in nearly every category aside from standard receiving metrics, but Lynch isn't far behind. And, in Lynch's favor, he also has two seasons in Buffalo where he rushed for 2,151 yards and 15 touchdowns, as well as a 165-attempt, 573-yard, 6-touchdown shortened campaign in Seattle (the season he was traded).
You could certainly argue that, given Lynch's additional time, he's posted reasonably close regular season numbers to Davis, if not better. Or you can just call me an idiot in the comments section.
Where Davis really wins here is in the playoffs. Though Lynch, as shown above, is one of the best postseason running backs of all time, Terrell Davis is the best postseason running back of all time. In just eight games, Davis compiled 1,140 yards, a 5.59 yards per carry average and 12 rushing touchdowns. That's straight dirty.
If Davis is deserving to be a finalist, looking at the numbers, I don't think it necessarily means Lynch should be too. There's a lot to be adjusted for era as well. However, if Marshawn -- who's a little past 28 years old -- is able to sustain this level of play for a couple of more seasons (maybe even one more monster one), he'll have a strong case for Canton.
How awesome would his bust be in the Hall of Fame? No, no -- how awesome would his speech be?