Right about the time Jon Gruden got the urge to return to coaching, Marshawn Lynch was playing his best football of last season. Lynch had two games over 100 yards in the final few games, finishing strong to average 4.6 yards per carry over the second half of the season.
Gruden talks about having Derek Carr on the team was a major factor in his excitement of taking over the Raiders. But the possibility of coaching Beast Mode also intrigued him.
“Looking at our film and the game that I broadcast on Christmas night, there’s no question he’s still the Beast, that’s hard to bring down,” Gruden said of Lynch. “And one of the reasons that I’m excited to be with the Raiders is to join forces with Lynch, but we’ll see what happens. Obviously, we’ve got to take a look at our entire roster. But I’m counting on him. I’m counting on him being a big part of our football team.”
Lynch ran for 95 yards in that Monday night game in Philadelphia on Christmas with no idea the man who would be his head coach calling the game from the booth.
Recently Gruden told Lynch he wanted him back, but only if it’s full time Lynch. He was referring to the difference between Lynch from early last season in which he averaged under 11 carries per game and 3.8 yards per carry and the late season Lynch who averaged 17 carries per game and 4.63 yards per carry.
It’s hard to fault Lynch for not getting more carries early in the season. That could be entirely out of his control. As for his yards per carry being low early on, numbers show he routinely faced stacked boxes (a product of a predictable offense). More than any back in football, in fact. And still had impressive yards after contact numbers.
So, yeah, he’s still a beast. If he wants to return for the second season of his 2-year deal as the team’s feature back, that should excite Gruden… and the fans.