Marshawn Lynch seems to be well on the way to returning to the NFL. He met with the Raiders on Wednesday and reportedly told them he plans to un-retire, signaling the triumphant return of Beast Mode.
But is it really a good idea? Sure, Lynch is a great running back and a fun personality, but is he truly Oakland's best option? Numbers, as well as some logic, suggest Lynch may not be the best fit in the team's offense for a number of reasons.
Here are five of them.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
When Lynch was in Seattle, and in Buffalo for that matter, those teams' offenses were schemed to fit his running style. The quarterback was often under center, allowing Lynch to get a full head of steam coming out of the backfield. In his career, Lynch has only 435 carries out of the shotgun compared to 1,704 from under center. Yes, he averaged 4.9 yards per carry out of the shotgun, but that was on a much smaller sample size.
The Raiders love to use shotgun formations with Derek Carr in the gun last season for 455 of his 560 pass attempts. Part of that was due to his thumb injury, but the discrepancy was even larger in 2015.
It’s not that Lynch can’t have success out of the shotgun, but he’s more comfortable when the quarterback takes two steps and hands him the ball from under center. Not to mention, the Raiders are a pass-first team right now, and Lynch's power running style is most effective with repeated use.
There’s a reason Oakland went 12-4 last season and had the sixth-best offense in the league.
The last time Marshawn Lynch was in the NFL, he played just seven games in 2015. He battled several injuries, from calf and hamstring ailments to an issue with his abdomen. Lynch eventually had sports hernia surgery, which kept him out for the final six games of the season.
It’s not that Lynch has a history of injuries, but the fact that he dealt with so many different issues in his final season is concerning. Granted, he’s had a year off from the game, but getting back into football shape isn’t the easiest task. Oftentimes, as we’ve seen with players who hold out from training camp, missing significant time can lead to soft-tissue injuries like hamstring strains.
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Influence on a young team
Lynch is a fan-favorite, and understandably so. He’s hilarious, his running style is a joy to watch, and his antics off the field pique the interest of fans. However, Lynch isn’t going to be a savvy veteran who “rallies the troops” by giving motivational speeches in the locker room. I’m not suggesting Lynch is bad teammate or one who can split a locker room, but he is an introvert who won’t necessarily have a positive influence on younger players.
We saw it in Seattle when he refused to talk to the media. He also refused to go to the locker room during a game against the Chiefs in 2014, which isn’t exactly a great look, obviously. The Raiders have a wealth of young talent, and Lynch may not be the best influence on them.
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
Lack of production
Lynch wasn’t just injured in 2015. He was also unproductive. He rushed for just 417 yards in seven games, averaging a measly 3.8 yards per carry – his fewest since 2010 when he averaged 3.6. That number was down from 4.7 in 2014, 4.2 in 2013 and 5.0 in 2012. It should come as no surprise that a running back’s production would take a major hit as he approaches 30 years old, and Lynch is no different.
He’ll be 31 later this month, which is a scary number for running backs. Only 22 players since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 have rushed for more than 1,000 yards after turning 31. In fact, only Frank Gore has done it since 2010, doing it twice. It’s not something that happens often, and it’s a reason Lynch’s age and lack of production in his last season should concern the Raiders.
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
Strong draft class
The Cowboys and Bears both showed us last season what rookie running backs can do in the NFL. The learning curve at that position isn’t as steep as say quarterback or defensive end, and running backs often have success in Year 1. In fact, 61 rookie running backs since 1970 have rushed for 1,000 yards, compared to 22 players doing so over age 31.
Lynch is a different breed, but in a draft class that’s been called the best in the last decade, why would the Raiders opt for a 31-year-old back over a cheap rookie?
Sure, the Cowboys spent the fourth pick on Ezekiel Elliott, but Jordan Howard wasn’t taken until the fifth round. There are a number of backs in this draft class who can be Day 1 starters, from Leonard Fournette to Dalvin Cook to Christian McCaffrey to Alvin Kamara – and the list goes on and on. The Raiders, who don’t have many needs, would be smart to spend a draft pick on a running back.
Oh, and of those 61 rookies who rushed for 1,000-plus yards, only 34 were taken in the first round, so teams can find production in the later rounds.