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Jon Gruden: Marshawn Lynch was ‘heart and soul’ of Seahawks Super Bowl teams, is same for Raiders now

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In case his stats this season weren’t enough of an indicator, Marshawn Lynch is a major part of the 2018 Raiders. He currently leads the team in several areas including rushing yards (331), yards per carry (4.3), yards from scrimmage (401), and touchdowns (3). In fact, he’s the only Raiders player with a rushing touchdown this season.

It’s been a resurgent season for Marshawn in which he continued his momentum from the latter half of last season in which he averaged 4.6 yards per carry over the final 8 games and 4.3 yards per carry on the season.

His current numbers put him on pace for 1059 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. The last time he had those kinds of numbers, he was the lead back for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

Sunday he will face his former team for the first time in a regular season game. The Raiders are hoping the contributions he gave the Seahawks in those five Pro Bowl years and two Super Bowl years (one win) will be what the Raiders need to beat them Sunday.

“We’ve got a few ex-Seahawks on our team – Bruce Irvin, Clinton McDonald, and certainly Marshawn Lynch, the most well known ex-Seahawk on our football team,” said Gruden. “He had a lot to do, I think, with the Super Bowl ring that the Seahawks wear. He was the heart and soul of that team. In a lot of ways he’s the heart and soul of the Raiders right now. He’s still running with that incredible physicality, he’s been durable, he’s practiced every day, behind the scenes he’s one of our leaders. He’s a little bit misunderstood by a lot of people, but believe me if you were coaching a football team, he’d be one of the first guys you’d want on your team.”

Marshawn was 28-years-old then. In his prime. But even now, at 32, he looks every bit as Beastmode as he always did during his heyday in Seattle.

“I think he’s done a remarkable job of maintaining his fitness,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said this week.

“I think he looks really, very much the same. I really like the way he is playing. I mean last year and this year. He looks in the same style, in the same mode, aggressive and explosive. He’s averaging over four yards a carry. I think he’s doing pretty good.”

It can be easy to forget that in 2013 the Seahawks won the Super Bowl with the help of Marshawn, mainly because the lasting memory was of them losing to the Patriots the following year because instead of handing it to Marshawn at the goal line, the Seahawks chose to put the ball in the air and it was intercepted.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Derek Carr just did the same thing last week against the Chargers. In first and goal at the one, the ball didn’t go to Marshawn and instead Carr threw an interception in the end zone. A touchdown would have kept the game within reach. The interception sealed their fates.

Prior to last week when Marshawn only saw nine carries for 31 yards, he was a top five back in terms of rushing yards. He’s still top ten, and it’s clear that where he sits in the rankings is not up to him so much as the team. If they fall behind, they put the ball in the air. That also means the Raiders defense will play a part in how much he sees the ball. A defense that is currently among the worst in the league.

Solution? Hand it to Marshawn early, and hope to keep to keep up, so you can keep feeding the beast and he can have the kind of performance he deserves to have against the team.