Aside from the off the field benefits Marshawn Lynch brings to the Raiders franchise, of which there are many, there is of course the benefits he brings as a player on the field.
Yes, he fills a need and yes his playing style will complement running backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington well. But if he can return to the form he was prior to his injury-shortened 2015 season and subsequent retirement, his addition to this Raiders offense will be considerable.
A Raiders official told Dan Graziano recently just what the Raiders are expecting/hoping to get from Lynch.
"Downhill, decisive runner that keeps us ahead of the chains. He gets what is there and falls forward.
"Makes loaded box defenses less intimidating to run into because he can break arm tackles with consistency and attitude.
"Has a big impact on the play action passing game because safeties and LBs want to fit faster so he doesn't get a head of steam.
"Brings a nastiness and venom to the backfield. Right now that room is young guys and soft spoken. It is also another guy who has won a championship. Experience in big moments."
You can see most of these qualities in this classic run by Lynch against the Saints from 2010. A run that has been named “Beast Quake”. The run happens at the 1:40 mark of the video.
And lest ye think that kind of running is well in the past for Lynch, he did it again in 2015 in a run against the Cardinals which they call Beast Mode 2.0.
Still need proof Lynch is effective?
Well, take a look at this graphic which Pro Football Focus has been pushing lately which tallies broken tackles since 2013. It shows Lynch to have a commanding lead in the category despite having missed all of last season to allow others to close the gap.
That’s 245 broken tackles in less than 2.5 seasons time. And as you can see, there’s still a sizable gap with other backs who have had 4 full seasons during the same timeframe. That’s crazy.
Another statistic, which was put out by the Raiders’ resident stat guy, shows Lynch knows how to find pay dirt better than any running back in football the past six years. He leads the league with 51 rushing touchdowns over that time. This is also despite having been out of football in 2016.
In total, Lynch has had 6 1000-yard rushing seasons out of his nine seasons in the NFL since 2007. That’s twice as many as the Raiders have had during that timespan. Those Raiders rushers were Justin Fargas with 1009 in 07, Darren McFadden in ‘10 with 1157, and Latavius Murray in ‘15 with 1066.
Prior to Lynch’s injury shortened 2015 season, he had surpassed 1000 yards four-straight seasons, headed to a Pro Bowl each season, and was named All Pro once during that time. He also put up double digit touchdowns in each of those seasons.
As a literal bonus, if Lynch can get back to being a 1000-yard rusher with the Raiders this season, he will earn a $2 million bonus on top of his $3 million salary.
With the Raiders having one of the best offensive lines in football, there’s every reason to be optimistic Lynch will find the room to get to the second level where he does his best work eluding and running through potential tacklers.
Watch: Video ‘Beast Mode Rises’