The NFL prides itself on its ability to change. Every offseason, a team makes a splash and a surprise occurs. This offseason, no surprise was bigger than Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement and being traded from the Seattle Seahawks to his hometown Oakland Raiders. The Raiders, fresh off one of their best seasons in over a decade, needed someone to replace the recent departure of Latavius Murray. Lynch is not only a replacement, but an upgrade even with the year away from football.
Above: We found out what Marshawn did before the Raiders came calling
Comparing 2015 Lynch to 2016 Murray
Now before we get all analytical, it is important to note games played. In Lynch’s final season with the Seahawks, he only managed to play in 7 total games. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry and was only able to crack the endzone 3 total times (all rushing) on the season.
Above: Live look at the Seahawks O-line the last time Lynch terrorized opposing defenses
Murray had a forgetful final year in Oakland after breaking 1,000 yards in just his second year as a pro. In 14 games, Murray averaged 4 yards per carry and was able to find pay dirt a whopping 12 times. While those numbers are impressive, his 788 total rushing yards and diminished role as the season went on were not. Lynch, like Murray, will have to split time with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington in the Raider backfield.
The O-line Matters…Big Time
One overwhelming positive for Lynch this season is he’ll be running behind one of the top offensive lines in the league. In 2015, Lynch was forced to run behind the 30th ranked Offensive Line in the entire league according to Pro-Football Focus. The Seahawks were ranked 29th in run blocking. No need to be an expert to know how bad that number is.
In 2016, the Oakland Raiders boasted the 4th best offensive line in all of football according to Pro-Football Focus. The most absurd thing about the Oakland O-line is that the average starter is 6’4 and 327 pounds. That is a step below a refrigerator running at you and clearing a path for a guy who is no small back in his own right. Beast mode will be able to eat in Oakland for sure.
Look at the Oakland offense and you’ll see why they are a possible super bowl contender this year. Derek Carr is a stud, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are a dangerous receiving duo, the O-Line is still in tact and now they have added Marshawn Lynch. If the Raiders fail in 2017, it won’t be due to lack of offense. They have the weapons to be a top 5 and possibly a top 3 offense in the entire league.
Above: Marshawn wants you to hold something
Focusing back on Lynch, I’ll take it a step further with my prediction. Assuming good health (a big assumption since he only managed to play in 7 games in 2015 then took a year off), I will say Lynch will average 4 yards a carry while running for 1,200 yards and scoring a staggering 15 TDs to become one of the best backs in football once again.
Look out NFL, Beast Mode is back.