clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

OC Todd Downing claims Raiders not limiting Marshawn Lynch’s touches, still hopes to ‘feed him’ more

New, comments

How many carries should Marshawn Lynch be getting?

NFL: New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No one expected Marshawn Lynch to get workhorse type carries this season. I projected about 17 carries per game, mainly because the Raiders have a couple of change-of-pace backs in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. And yet Lynch isn’t coming anywhere close to that.

In 9 appearances this season, Lynch is averaging 10.8 yards carries per game. And yet offensive coordinator Todd Downing says he has not been limiting Marshawn’s carries this season.

“No. I️ haven’t really put a rep count or anything like that,” Downing said Thursday. “We just have a rotation with the backs. Try to feed who’s producing.”

Alright, let’s take a look and see if that bears itself out.

While I was predicting 17 carries per game for Marshawn, he hasn’t even reached that number since the season opener in Tennessee (18).

It’s not really fair to judge Marshawn’s workload in blowouts because naturally the team will put the ball in the air to catch up. So, let’s look at a couple of close losses this season against the rival Broncos and Chargers. Games the Raiders lost by one score and a combined total of 7 points.

Against the Broncos, they ran the ball 9 times in the first half and 14 times in the game. Nine of those runs went to Marshawn who averaged 1.3 yards per carry. Nothing was working that day because the Raiders were simplistic and predictable and the Broncos were ready for it. Marshawn also looked like he was trying to do too much to get something going. All of which suggests Lynch’s few carries were in line with the few snaps the offense had overall.

The Chargers game is another story. In that game Marshawn was averaging 6.1 yards per carry on 8 carries and got just 5 carries in the second half. He was ‘producing’ as Downing said, and yet still didn’t stick with him.

One of the moments in that Chargers game the Raiders should have either run Marshawn Lynch or at least used him in play action was the first play of the 4th quarter. Up 10-7, they went for it on 4th and 2 at the 41-yard-line. And for no logical reason, they lined up 4-wide with an empty backfield. Carr threw off target to Crabtree and the Raiders turned it over on downs. Not converting that first down was a pivotal moment in the Chargers coming back to win it.

Last week in Mexico City against the Patriots, the Raiders were in 4th and one, down 27-0 near the end of the third quarter and Marshawn was parked on the bench. This time they went with fullback Jamize Olawale who was stuffed for no gain. Downing admitted that was a mistake.

“Yeah that’s my fault,” said Downing. “I️ should’ve gotten Marshawn in there. I️ should’ve tagged him in the personnel grouping. In that situation, we would normally have him in there. I think he had run it a couple of times previously to that and was getting a little bit of a breather, so we plugged ‘Maze’ [Jamize Olawale] who’s our second short yardage back in there. But you can pin that on me, I️ should’ve had him in there.”

No offense to Olawale, but he is a fullback first. Marshawn is the running back. If anything he should have had the ball with Olawale as a lead blocker.

As a team, the Raiders run the ball about 18 times per game. This is down from 23 times per game last season. So, it isn’t just that Marshawn isn’t getting the ball enough, the entire team is running fewer times. Most expected they’d run the ball more this season, mainly because that’s what they had been saying would happen.

In the two games since returning from his one-game suspension, Marshawn has been looking as impressive as he had the first two games of the season. He has averaged 4.96 yards per carry in those games and continuously picks up yards in chunks.

“He’s really been reenergized and refocused,” said Downing. “He’s running the ball well. I think he had something like 11 carries in the first half or something like that. We were trying to get him rocking and rolling. I’m pleased with where he’s at. Hoping to be able to feed him a little bit more.”

Technically, it was 9 carries in the first half, in which he was averaging 6.8 yards per carry, but then the game got out of hand, so he got two more carries and was sat down. Had he been able to stay on his first half pace, he would have matched his season high.

If what Downing says is true, Marshawn will be given the chance to make up for his season-worst game in his re-match with the Broncos. He will also get to make up for his last game in Oakland in which he was ejected for contact with an official after just two carries.


How many carries do you think Marshawn should get against the Broncos?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Less than 10
    (35 votes)
  • 6%
    Season avg (10-12)
    (46 votes)
  • 22%
    Above season avg (13-15)
    (169 votes)
  • 26%
    Career average (16-18)
    (203 votes)
  • 40%
    Feed the beast (19+)
    (310 votes)
763 votes total Vote Now