BY Art Thiel 07:46PM 01/04/2016

Thiel: Behold, Beast trods upon the mossy land

RB Marshawn Lynch worked out Monday for the first time since his abdominal surgery Nov. 25. Coach Pete Carroll anticipates Beast Mode will be ready to play Sunday in the playoffs.

Christine Michael had the first 100-yard game of his career Sunday. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Now that preliminaries have been dispatched, The Quest for the Lost Yard boils anew. The Seahawks return to the playoffs upon the Norse-riddled shores of Lake Wobegon, and they bring with them The Beast.

“He’s in the program,” said coach Pete Carroll Monday of RB Marshawn Lynch. “We’ll see if he can handle it and I expect he will.”

Following a game in which the Seahawks ran for 147 yards over the NFL’s fifth-ranked defense in a 36-6 dope-slap of the Arizona Cardinals, Lynch’s return for the wild-card game in Minnesota (10 a.m. Sunday, NBC) makes it seems as if they’re adding a high first-round draft choice to the two-time defending NFC champs.

Twenty carries, coach?

“I think so,” he said. “This is similar to the first game of the year, really, is what it would be like. We don’t have any different expectations than that.”

Lynch last played Nov. 15 and had abdominal surgery Nov. 25 to repair a sports hernia, missing nearly all of the Seahawks’ post-bye offensive renaissance. Carroll didn’t want to put too much certainty on the full recovery of a player who has never experienced surgery, especially since he has spent most of his rehab time in the Bay Area working with his longtime trainers at Empower Gym.

“Wednesday we’re going to practice and see how he feels and how far he can take it,” he said. “He’s worked out in incredibly competitive situations getting physically ready to go. Now we have to translate that to football.

“I’m not worried about having to work him into the system. It’s been a while, but he’ll be fine.”

Given the progress displayed Sunday by Lynch’s primary replacement, Christine Michael, the Seahawks may seem to have an embarrassment of riches. But given the brutal path to redeeming the Super Bowl failure — up to three road games, nothing like the previous year’s nursery-school routine of a bye and two home games — there is no such thing as a luxury of talent.

Michael is coming off his first career 100-yard game (102 in 17 carries, including a 45-yarder) in a stunted career that has taken its first uptick since the Seahawks used a second-round pick to draft in him in 2013.

“He’s produced when he’s had his chances, he’s played really hard, he’s been really serious about every step of the way,” Carroll said. “He’s just done a marvelous job in this very short time. So we have nothing but the highest of expectations.”

Michael is another story of a player who was overlooked/dismissed/denigrated, yet found a haven with the Seahawks. Only it was the Seahawks who discarded him, getting a seventh-round pick from the Cowboys in a September trade, then cast off again by Dallas before landing on Washington’s practice squad, where the Seahawks found him.

“This is the classic example if you just keep staying with it, and give guys chances, that sometimes they just come right through for you,” Carroll said. “It’s only a few games, but there are really strong indicators that he’s ready to take advantage of this opportunity. Nothing less than what we had hoped for a while back.

“Sometimes it’s a strange course you got to go to get here, but it’s working out. I think he’s more humble than he was. I think he was really trying to be flashy. (Now) he comes to work every day and he’s really serious about fitting in. It just feels like he’s matured.”

Lynch’s return coincides with the anticipated return to health, according to Carroll, of four starters who sat out Sunday — LT Russell Okung (calf), SS Kam Chancellor (tailbone), RG J.R. Sweezy and TE Luke Willson (concussions).

Carroll was thrilled to cite the contributions of the backups: Alvin Bailey at tackle, rookie rookie Mark Glowinski at guard and newcomer Chase Coffman at tight end.

“We were really excited to see some guys jump into roles and play some front-line football,” he said. “It was fun to see who scored touchdowns for us too: Will Tukuafu, Bryce Brown and Chase Coffman, along with Jermaine (Kearse). You wouldn’t have thought that a little while ago that those guys would be in the stats.

“It’s exciting to see those guys come through and help us get a really fun win.”

The  failure to get one of the NFC’s top two seeds and its reward of a first-round bye means the Seahawks are likely to rely more on depth, which is a hard thing to come by, especially after rewarding QB Russell Wilson and LB Bobby Wagner with big contracts that put them hard against the salary cap.

But it sounds as if nearly all will be returning this week, eager to welcome back the Beast.

For the players and the 12s, prepare to grab your crotches.

 


YourThoughts

  • 1coolguy

    This may sound crazy but it seems we are playing better without Graham than with him. The ball is getting spread to more receivers and RW is checking off to his multiple options, instead of keying on Graham as it had appeared. Baldwin’s numbers have happened since Graham’s gone away.
    I say Graham’s addition was marginal and if so, then trade him and free up that $9M he’s due next year.
    Knock down Lynch’s $11.5M to a reasonable $5M, or cut him, and we free up real cash for an O-line rebuild.

    • SeaRaays

      RW is passing quicker and trusting is stuff like he didn’t in the beginning of the year. Also he has better line play. Why the team was playing poorly was not Graham. Just think if Graham was healthy like the breakout of the passing game against Pittsburgh. He helped the team just RW is playing better.

      • art thiel

        My point as well.

      • John M

        It’s easier to look good when you aren’t running for your life. The question is, why didn’t Bevell go to the quick pass sooner – oh yeah, those 5 guys bearing down on RW as the snap is still on its way. You can only be so quick throwing a quick pass. RW spent a lot of time in the off season working on his accuracy and running. Imagine if he would have started the season with a line that gave him another few seconds . . .

    • jafabian

      IMO, Graham has taught DangeRuss to use the field more. He doesn’t just stick with the RB and the top 3 WR’s as his passing targets anymore. In the end they weren’t using Graham as a red zone target as much as a 3rd down target. He’ll still be a big part of their plans next season.

      • art thiel

        Agree that Graham should stay, but I wouldn’t close the door on a major move that includes him. Schneider sees things the rest of us don’t.

    • art thiel

      The improvement was mostly in the offensive line and a renewed emphasis on quick passing, both of which were independent of the identity of the tight end. It’s reasonable that the Seahawks would be even better with Graham.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    Wow what an opener, “the quest for the lost yard . . .”, touches of Red Smith, Grantland Rice. The reaqder is rejuvenated. But then, we reach the final sentence of your piece. Such are th vagaries of today’s written word, I guess.
    Hawks need to adjust to the other team’s adjustments. Hoping for a repeat, but they never do what you expect them to do.

    • art thiel

      The quest theme I’ve been using a while. The last line is about a Lynch gesture somewhat forgotten that is s small reminder of why he doesn’t bother with words. Both, I think, are amusing.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        The “quest” theme didn’t look good some parts of the season, while other parts it did. And it is really humming along now. My theme is is “we(hawk fans) are owed a super bowl.”

        • art thiel

          The whole point of quests is that they are not easy. Ask Frodo Baggins or King Arthur in “Holy Grail.”

  • jafabian

    I hesitate benching Michael for Lynch when Michael seems to be on a roll. I imagine Lynch will be on a semi-short leash when he returns.

    • art thiel

      Body of work. Lynch is smarter, more versatile and trustworthy than Michael.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        Yes, he wasn’t on a roll a mere 2+ weeks ago being cut from the Redskins practice squad. The 100 yard effort against a lackluster AZ effort was nice though.
        Things change in an instant and he is still carrying the ball the wrong way. He is protecting it better obviously but all it takes is a fumble or two to douse your play off hopes. A healthy beast is just going to look normal and hopefully the winning formula.

  • Paul Harmening

    Two lead off home runs in a row. Whatever your taken, I’ll have some of that! But your closing pitch in this one? Really Art? What else did you mix in your juice while completing this article? Spanish fly? Now you’ve made me conjured up this image of 60k 12′s all grabbing their crotch at the same time when the Beast Mode scores the first time. Shame on you – ha ha ha. Too funny!

    • art thiel

      Thanks for noticing. And typing one-handed.

  • notaboomer

    how about “Quest for the Lost Yard: The Redemption of Bevell?”

  • notaboomer
  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Hail Hail Caesar and his return to Rome!

    Actually not that dramatic but glad to have him back. Go Hawks!

  • Sonics79

    In case anyone wants to see what Marshawn was up to during his rehab, his MMA trainer, Tareq Azim, posted this video the other day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRyoCWjYg1s

    • art thiel

      Lynch has worked with him for years. Full trust.

  • Gerald Turner

    Beast mode can grab the screen pass way better than Cmike

    • art thiel

      Among several reasons why Lynch is preferable.

  • Warchild_70

    I awoke today to the trumpets of Angels and a mighty voice of a heavenly choir saying Beastie is back!!! OK it was beautiful to hear he has managed to come back from surgery in good shape kiddos to the trainers. C Mike, Jackson, Beastie equal lots of yards and the W Rs are clicking, all add up to a good match in the Land of 1,000 lakes. When we were in the AFC Denver games were not balmy so I do believe with the new equipment technology to maintain warmth we’ll be fine. Below zero temperatures work on both teams regardless of it being their home they suffer just a little less than the visitor. Again welcome back Marshawn you were missed. GO HAWKS!!

    • art thiel

      You slighted MIN by 9,000 lakes.

      • Warchild_70

        Only 9,000? I was once told in school that the native folks call Minnesota Minny Ha-Ha (Land of many lakes). I didn’t know it was that many! Well the Square Heads will be in full swing bare chested showing their swag it’s going to be a fun game to watch.

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