In his press session on Thursday after practice, Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt noted how similar seasons that Beanie Wells and Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch have had. If you have been following the season, you would know that Lynch has been one of the best backs in the game this season, particularly in the second half of the season, while Beanie had a record-breaking week and has played well while battling through a knee injury.
Yet when you put of their numbers side-by-side, they really do seem very similar. Take a look at some of them after the jump and decide which of the two you would choose for your team.
First, the total season stats:
Beanie Wells: 14 games (missing one due to a hamstring injury), 245 carries, 1047 yards, 4.3 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns.
Marshawn Lynch: 14 games (missing one with a back injury), 266 carries, 1118 yards, 4.2 yards per carry and 12 TDs.
Beanie started strongly, with games of 90, 93 and 140 yards before he battled a knee injury. His biggest game was 228 yards against the Rams in Week 12. Only one other time all season did he amass more than 80 yards in a game.
Lynch started more slowly and has been very strong late in the season. He has gained 100+ yards in six of his last eight games, including against the 49ers, who had not allowed a back to get 100 yards in a game in over two seasons. He was the first to rush for a TD against the 49ers this season.
Both backs have been marked with inconsistencies. Lynch started his career with two 1000+ yard seasons with the Buffalo Bills, but rushed for only 450 in 2009 and a combined 737 in 2010. Wells' rookie year was fine, as he led his team in rushing with 793 while splitting carries with Tim Hightower. His 2010 campaign was a struggle, as he had knee surgery and never looked right. He gained only 397 and averaged only 3.4 yards per carry.
Lynch is known to be one of the most punishing backs in the league and at making defenders miss by running through and over them. Beanie has more elusiveness and a great stiffarm, but before this season was considered more of a finesse player. This year he has been doling out punishment.
According to PFF, Lynch has gained 671 of his yards after contact, an average of 2.5 per carry. Beanie is right with him with 648 yards and 2.6 yards per carry after contact. The difference is that Lynch has caused 50 missed tackles to Beanie's 24 on the season.
The two are built differently. Lynch is 5-11, 215 pounds. Beanie is bigger, at 6-2, 229.
Marshawn is two years older at 25 years old and five years in the league. Beanie is 23 with three years.
Lynch was clocked at the NFL combine with a 4.36 second 40 time. Beanie was clocked at 4.46 at his Pro Day.
If you had to make a choice, who would be your pick?
Being the type of back that Lynch is -- a guy that runs through defenders, you wonder how long he can keep it up. The shelf life for backs like that is short. Just look at Brandon Jacobs and Marion Barber. He does have speed, but he does not use elusiveness.
Beanie has both, but has the knock of being injury prone. He has had one knee surgery and may need another this offseason. But he is two years younger, which is huge when it comes to running backs in the NFL.
It really looks like you won't be sorry with either one, but if all things are equal, I go with Wells for one reason -- his age. Both are physical, both have come back from disappointing seasons. The one thing that Beanie has on Lynch is youth.
It will be interesting to see five years from now how the two backs have fared. I imagine that they will look very similar.