Two high-profile NFL players were arrested early this week stemming from respective events over the weekend of July 13-15.
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant and Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch allegedly committed some rather abhorrent infractions.
Premature judgement notwithstanding, this flagrant behavior will surely cost these players serious game time. Lynch would be a repeat offender and Bryant has had his fair share of off-field issues as well (although no arrests). Expect commissioner Roger Goodell to issue suspensions once he reviews all of the facts.
Bringing this back to the football field, how will these arrests impact Dallas’ and Seattle’s playoff chances in 2012?
The Cowboys are in a better, but certainly not enviable position to absorb the loss of their star. The team does have the dynamic Miles Austin at wideout and Jason Witten at tight end. DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones form a solid one-two punch at the running back position as well.
However, problems arise regarding injuries and depth. Jones has missed 16 games since being drafted in 2008. Murray is recovering from a right ankle injury that cut his season short by three games. And Austin missed six due to multiple hamstring issues.
The potential losses of Bryant (suspension) and Austin (injury), in addition to WR Laurent Robinson (Jaguars) and TE Martellus Bennett (Giants), will leave the Cowboys wholly depleted at those positions. The same goes for the corps of running backs if Jones or Murray succumb to another injury.
Even a radically bolstered defense could not overcome a complete implosion of the offense for a successful playoff run.
For the Seahawks, seeing their coveted Beast Mode go down for a lengthy suspension would be devastating.
Running the risk of sounding melodramatic, their entire offense runs though the former Cal star. It is simply a run-first system.
Pete Carroll engineered 509 passing plays. The amount of rushing attempts ranked just behind with 444. Lynch, for his part, pounded the rock 285 times for 1,204 of the team’s 1,756 rushing yards (not to mention 12 of the 17 rushing TDs). No other back tallied more than 53 carries.
Leon Washington—that 53-carry man—proves his worth in the return game, and not as an every-down back. The other backup in Justin Forsett already dons a Texans uniform.
And the rookie Robert Turbin looks the part of a solid NFL back, but is indeed a rookie and should not be relied upon initially to carry the load.
So what about the ‘Hawks’ passing attack?
Seattle signed marquee free-agent quarterback Matt Flynn as an ostensible upgrade at the position over Tarvaris Jackson. The incumbent’s 2011 production was regrettable at best. He threw just 14 TD passes next to 13 interceptions, made worse by a measly 6.9 YPA and constant indecision.
All logic would indicate that Flynn will serve as a substantial improvement over Jackson. Despite starting only two NFL games, he produced at a rather stellar rate.
Then again, that is only a two-game sample size. Questions abound over his legitimacy as a starting NFL QB. Even more questions emerge regarding his receiving corps.
Can Doug Baldwin replicate his rookie success? Will Sidney Rice return to form after multiple shoulder surgeries? Are Ben Obomanu or Golden Tate worthy of a spot on an NFL roster?
The point is that Seattle faces far too many question marks on offense. The loss of Marshawn Lynch would only exacerbate them. And like Dallas, it’s upgraded defense can only do so much in support of a playoff push.
Both the Cowboys and Seahawks play in extremely competitive divisions. Each teams’ chance of overcoming the Eagles and Giants, or 49ers and Cardinals would drastically reduce if they suffered the loss of Bryant and Lynch for significant time.
Too many ancillary variables exist for them to succeed at a high level.
It’s all speculation at this point. But the ominous possibilities should have the Dallas and Seattle contingents fearful of their postseason destinies.