When Jon Gruden became the head coach of the Oakland Raiders again, one of the first things he did was challenge running back Marshawn Lynch.
Remember the conversation he told superfan Ahmed he had with Lynch?
“We’re not going to have that,” Gruden said. “No. I said to him: ‘I need Marshawn Lynch. I don’t need this part-time Lynch. I need full-time Lynch. We need the real deal. If you’re going to put those letters on the back of your jersey, man, you’ve got to back it up, Marshawn—right? We don’t need another back, we need a feature back.”
So Lynch does just that and his reward is Gruden trying to get a washed-up Doug Martin on the field. All Gruden can talk about is how Martin was once an All-Pro but that was just one year. Forget about him averaging 2.9 yards per carry the previous two years, four yards per carry or more for only two of his seven seasons and sitting on 3.7 YPC this season. Most of his carries this year are a wasted running play that could have went to Lynch.
Currently, Lynch has 331 yards rushing (10th) with 275 of it coming after contact (3rd). His average is 4.3 yards per carry with 3.57 of it after contact. Compare that to 3.7 yards per carry and 2.44 after contact for Martin. Yards after contact are at a premium with the Raiders these days because the offensive line isn’t opening too many holes
With all those yards after contact, Lynch gets stronger as the game goes on. Last year, he averaged around 11 carries per game in the first half of it and produced 3.8 yards per carry. In the second half of the season, Lynch averaged 17 carries per game to average 4.5 yards per carry. Over the last five games that year, he had 434 yards, (4th in the league) averaging 17 carries per game and 5.2 yards per carry.
Then this year, Lynch comes off 130 yards on 20 carries and being a top-5 rusher after four games to have Gruden give him only nine carries. And of course there was the play quarterback Derek Carr threw an interception at the 1-yardline with Lynch ready to go Beastmode.
That can’t happen with Lynch playing against the Seattle Seahawks, his former team, right?
“He had a lot to do, I think, with the Super Bowl ring that the Seahawks wear,” Gruden said Friday. “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.”
He had a lot to do, I think, with the Raiders winning the one game they won in 2018. And giving the heart and soul of your team just nine carries and three catches just isn’t enough. So it’s time to treat Beast Mode like the heart and soul and give him the rock. The Seahawks are No. 29 in the NFL against the run, giving up 4.7 YPC right now to the Raiders need to give Lynch a chance to get at his old team.