Running back Marshawn Lynch’s days in Buffalo could be coming to an end.
Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News wrote an excellent article on Monday discussing Lynch’s troubling behavior and why the Bills should part ways with the former first-round draft pick.
The article got me thinking and I find myself in complete agreement with Sullivan.
Saturday, word got out that Lynch had been accused of stealing $20 from a woman at a TGI Friday’s in Hamburg, New York this past December. Last summer, Lynch pleaded guilty to misdemeanor gun possession after he was popped in Los Angeles for having a firearm in his car. Less than a year prior to that, Lynch was involved in a hit-and-run in downtown Buffalo.
We’ve seen this before with athletes in a variety of sports. Big-time players who continually find themselves on the wrong side of the law are given a pass because they can sell jerseys, put wins in the standings and butts in the seats.
There’s just one problem. Lynch proved this season that he’s not a big-time player.
The Buffalo Bills used the 12th pick of the first round in the 2007 NFL Draft to land Lynch-a standout, dual-threat running back out of California. And it’s understandable to see why. The Bills were targeting a running back and with the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson off the board, the RB draft field was noticeably thin. The next four running backs selected after Lynch-Kenny Irons, Chris Henry, Brian Leonard and Brandon Jackson-all went in the second round and have yet to make any real impact at the NFL level.
(Author’s Note: By drafting Lynch, the Bills passed on Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and Panthers linebacker Jon Beason, just to name a few. Sorry for bringing that up, Bills fans).
And for that, you have to ask yourself what the Bills have received in return for their 2007 first-round draft pick. I’ll tell you what. Buffalo got a running back that averaged 3.8 yards per carry, scored just two rushing touchdowns and topped 70 yards on the ground just once in 13 games this year.
Oh yeah. He only played 13 games because he was suspended for the first three contests of the season for the aforementioned gun incident.
You can talk all you want about the Bills offensive line being a below-average unit that contributed to Lynch’s on-the-field troubles, but running back Fred Jackson didn’t seem to have an issue. Jackson averaged 4.5 yards per carry this season, picked up 1,433 total yards and scored four touchdowns.
In addition, when Jackson amassed 23 or more touches in a game, the Bills went 3-0. Not bad for a team that finished the year 6-10.
While Lynch may have scored nine touchdowns during his impressive 2008 campaign, he only put up 1,336 total yards in 15 starts. That’s 97 less yards than Jackson produced this season, and he only got 11 starts.
The bottom line is this: The Bills fired head coach Dick Jauron during the season and then sent interim head coach Perry Fewell packing at the end of the year. In addition, long-time national scout Buddy Nix was recently promoted to General Manager. Times are changing in Buffalo and a new regime is taking control. The organization has a young, impressive running back in Fred Jackson who has proven he can get the job done on the field and keep his nose clean off of it.
There’s no place for a guy like Lynch. Sure, he’s still a young, talented running back who would definitely catch on somewhere else and put up some numbers, but the Bills need to think about one thing and one thing only right now: What is best way to get this organization to the top?
Sending a message by cleaning up the locker room is a good start.
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