The New York Giants have played against some of the best halfbacks in the league this season, but none might be as tough to bring down as Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks. The eight-year veteran out of Cal has already gained 1,042 yards in 2013 and has reached ten touchdowns for the third straight season.
It's safe to say that slowing down Lynch will be a focal point for the Giants defense when they take on the Seahawks on Sunday.
"Marshawn, it takes more than one person to bring him down," said defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. "I played against him before in the past and watched plenty of games, the film we've watched. You have to get 11 guys to the ball. You can't just leave one person hanging out to dry to try to bring him down himself because he's a tough back, strong back, fast, quick. He'll make people miss."
The fact that Lynch is such an impactful player is only part of the problem when it comes to containing Seattle's offense. Quarterback Russell Wilson is having a terrific sophomore season with 8.7 yards gained per pass attempt. If the defense over-commits to Lynch, Wilson can pick up big gains on the zone-read option or through the passing game.
"We've got to be assignment-sound, said Jenkins. "We have to be a whole lot better than we were last week and make sure we get back to the type of football we were playing against the run."
Last week the Giants held San Diego's Ryan Mathews to 3.6 yards per carry but got shredded through the air as quarterback Philip Rivers competed 75 percent of his throws for 249 yards and three touchdowns. Even if New York is able to keep Lynch from making big plays on Sunday, the defense could still be vulnerable to Wilson in the passing game. Unlike many scrambling quarterbacks, Wilson is always looking to get the ball out of his hands.
"Wilson, he'll get outside the pocket, he'll make people miss and he's always looking down field," said Jenkins. "I guess with his baseball background he's got a quick release and he's able to get rid of the ball, side-arm, different ways." Although the Giants game plan this week has to start with slowing down Lynch, it ends with keeping Wilson in the pocket on third down and forcing him to make tough decisions. If the defense can do that, New York may just have a chance for a statement victory on Sunday.