Tonight in the Raiders’ opening preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, we’ll get our first real look at Todd Downing’s offense and how it employs the Raiders’ talented stable of running backs. Marshawn Lynch, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard should all see action as well as Elijah Hood and hopefully they will each impress.
But what should we expect to see during the regular season? The Great Raiderdamus chose not to bore the Great Beyond with such a trivial question, instead putting it to the intrepid Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders, who produce reams of statistical analysis every year with precision approaching that of Raiderdamus.
RD: Where do you see Marshawn Lynch's production as a Raider, assuming he is totally healthy? Do you feel that Jalen Richard can step up and be a feature back in the years to come?
Scott: In the book, we projected Lynch to rush for 927 yards and 10 touchdowns. I think if he provided that impact for Oakland, the team will be happy with the signing. He’s not going to produce at his pre-2015 Seattle pace a year removed from the game, but he has a quality offensive line in front of him and a desire to put his hometown team over the top. I don’t think he would have returned if he was only going to get 8-10 carries per game. He may not get 20-plus carries that often, but the Raiders are going to utilize Lynch well this year.
Jalen Richard made some fine plays last season, which is why it’s too hard to keep him and DeAndre Washington on the bench too often. They’ll take more of a committee approach than Lynch may be used to, and I think Richard is a better receiving option as well.
So there you have it folks. Perhaps the Raiders’ crop of strong backs can make us hearken back to the days of Charlie Garner and Tyrone Wheatley, when Oakland would run roughshod on the rest of the league. If that happens, it opens up opportunities for Derek Carr and the potent Raiders air attack.
Can the Raiders even be stopped this year?