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Marshawn Lynch’s ‘vintage’ start to 2018

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Marshawn Lynch might be 32 years old and in his 11th NFL season, but that hasn’t stopped him from playing the game with as much passion and effort as he did in the early years of his career.

It’s well known that the age 30 for running backs often indicates the end of the road. Lynch is defying the odds. Through four games, Lynch is fourth in the league in rushing yards. Surrounding him in the top ten are running backs in their early to mid 20’s.

What’s remarkable about Lynch is that he continues to run the ball with his trademark rugged and violent style that gave him the nickname, “Beast Mode” many years ago. He currently leads the league with 20 forced missed tackles.

Half of those forced missed tackles (10) came in Sunday’s win over the Browns according to Pro Football Focus. This is the third time in his career he’s forced double digit missed tackles in a game. The most forced missed tackles in a game since the stat was kept is 12. And it was Marshawn who did it.

You can make the argument, that Marshawn has been the teams most valuable player. His effort and leadership on and off the field has not gone unnoticed.

“For him to consistently run the way that he does, give the effort that he does – he’s a Hall of Famer. The guy is one of the best running backs to ever play this game,” said Derek Carr after the game.

Head Coach Jon Gruden echoed those thoughts the next day on what Lynch has meant to the team.

“If that’s not a Hall of Fame back, I don’t know what is,” said Gruden. “Honestly. What he did yesterday, what he’s done since he’s been here is incredible. He wants the ball more and more and more. We got a good back over there in Doug Martin, who is ready to roll. Doug can’t get on the field. This guys does not want to come off the field. He picked up six or seven blitzes yesterday too that no one is talking about.”

Following the team’s loss in Miami to fall to 0-3 on the season, Lynch uncharacteristically gave the media a few minutes of his time.

Late in the game, the heat and humidity was taking its toll on the Raiders. But Marshawn continued pounding. Levi Damien asked him after the game about how he still had energy in such conditions, he responded simply “The game was on the line. Just want to make plays.”

Lynch felt it was the right moment to get the message out that, although they had yet to put a win on th e board, things were not as dire as some thought.

“What’s going to be most important is that we rally behind each other more than anything,” Lynch added. “From the outside looking in it may look terrible, but we know what we have in this locker room. If we get behind each other, I think we’ll be able to turn this around.

Lynch is a popular guy in the locker room and his teammates respect him greatly. A message like that, from a player like him goes a long ways with the youngsters that are seeing significant snaps for the Raiders.

For now Gruden wisely has no intentions of lessen Marshawn’s workload.

“Not until he tells me. I just keep patting him on the back, ‘Hey, you ready to go?’ I check on him periodically and when he can’t go, we go to Doug [Martin].”