With all the talk of Amari Cooper getting traded and whether or not the team still believes in Derek Carr is perhaps a bigger issue happening with the Raiders — they don’t have Marshawn Lynch anymore.
Lynch was the best player on this team through the first six games this season. He was on pace to go over 1000 yards and had three touchdowns as well. This despite getting underutilized due to being on a team that was getting blown out the past couple games and abandoned the run while playing from behind.
Marshawn was recently described by head coach Jon Gruden as the heart and soul of the Raiders. Now he’s on injured reserve with a groin injury.
Replacing him will be Doug Martin. The same Doug Martin who has averaged 3.0 yards per carry since 2016. That’s the lowest yards per carry in the league for backs with at least 150 yards over that span (H/T Josh Dubow of the Associated Press).
And yet somehow Gruden has been dead set Martin would be the perfect complement to Marshawn.
Now with Marshawn gone, Gruden is doubling down on Martin’s ability to be the workhorse back for this team.
“Yeah, we think Doug is the feature back,” said Gruden. “He’s had 1,500 yards in this league twice. He’s practiced hard. He’s ready to go.”
We are now three seasons removed from Martin’s last big season. He ran for 1402 yards in 2015. His other big season was as a rookie in 2012 when he ran for 1454 yards.
In 2016, Martin was suspended for violated the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs, which naturally put his bit 2015 into question. And he hasn’t been the same since, including averaging a paltry 2.9 yards per carry each of the past two seasons.
Martin has yet to crack 100 yards this season. I don’t mean in one game, I mean for the season. He has 99 yards on 27 carries (3.7 yards per carry). Just like when the team signed Martin, the rest of the football world is left wondering what Gruden seeing that everyone is somehow missing.
Regardless, this game will be Martin’s chance to try and prove the doubters wrong and Gruden right for having faith in the 29-year-old and giving him another shot.
Gruden is also hoping to get some contributions out of the backfield from DeAndre Washington who has been inactive all season. While Richard will continue with his role as a receiving target out of the backfield.