Why Marshawn Lynch could thrive behind Raiders’ O-line

With rumors that Marshawn Lynch is open to un-retiring, Sam Monson takes a look at his possible fit in Oakland.

| 3 months ago
Marshawn Lynch

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Why Marshawn Lynch could thrive behind Raiders’ O-line


Retired running back Marshawn Lynch reportedly visited the Oakland Raiders’ facility yesterday, making the prospect of him un-retiring to play for his hometown Raiders even more likely.

What does Lynch bring to the table as a running back? In a word: Beastmode. Over the past 10 years, Lynch broke tackles like no other runner in the league.

Marshawn Lynch broken tackles

The famous playoff run against the New Orleans Saints that created the “Beastmode” phenomenon was really emblematic of a style Lynch has had for years, and encapsulates how difficult it has been for tacklers to get him on the ground.

Looking at all running backs since the 2013 season, Lynch leads the NFL in broken tackles (by a clear 66 broken tackles).

In 322 carries, Ezekiel Elliott broke just 36 tackles last season — 30 shy of the margin that Lynch leads the league by over the past four seasons of play.

That would be impressive by itself, but Lynch didn’t suit up in 2016 at all — he was retired. He leads the league by a season’s worth of missed tackles, and he didn’t play in one of the seasons included. Not only that, but in 2015, he only played in eight games and carried the ball just 117 times due to injury.

Oakland’s running backs as a group last season combined to break 52 tackles, which isn’t a bad total, but is less than half the best mark Lynch has managed over a season.

Lynch also has another 42 broken tackles to his name as a receiver over that span, and thanks in large part to those numbers, led the league in elusive rating his final two years in the league, and was fourth in 2013.

Marshawn Lynch elusive rating

Schematically, the two offenses use similar run-concept distribution, so Lynch won’t be stepping into the unknown if he does sign with the Raiders. Last season Oakland used inside-zone, gap and outsize-zone concepts 72.1 percent of the time, while Seattle was up at 87.4 percent. The difference between the two teams is that the Raiders employ pulling linemen a little more, with a few more plays of power and counter in the offense, but the vast majority of the run plays Lynch would run in Oakland would be immediately familiar to him.

Injuries limited Lynch’s final season in Seattle, but when he was on the field, he was still effective, and for his final few years in the Pacific Northwest, he was running behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. Oakland, on the other hand, has assembled one of the best, which should only aid his production.

If the Raiders can convince Lynch to come out of retirement for one last go around in 2017, this offense suddenly looks terrifying for opposing defenses, assuming QB Derek Carr can come back from injury at the same level he was playing at in 2016.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • Josh Grabow

    Adding Marshawn Lynch, Jared Cook and Cordarrelle Patterson to an offense with Carr, Cooper, Crabtree and that offensive line will be incredible.

    • Ed

      I hope so too.

      Now if they can re-sign Riley Jr, draft a LB, DT, and secondary help, we’ll be set.

  • Ron /ram

    Hey morons, it was Carr’s leg not his arm fucking idiots..Chris “Scarecrow” Collinsworth lets hope cancers looming in you

    • crosseyedlemon

      You make an inappropriate and insensitive remark like that and call others morons? The many decent Raider fans would never stoop that low and your doing them a great disservice. Think about that.

      • Ray

        Fuck off clown, if you dont like go suck Chris’s little cock..stupid MTF!!

        • Samuel Charles

          Eloquence…

      • Ray

        Fuck off clown, if you dont like go suck Chris’s little cock..stupid MTF!!

      • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

        the few* decent raiders fans, lol

        • crosseyedlemon

          The reputation of Raider fans is not particularly good (especially from the perspective of certain division rivals) but that is mostly because of a few knuckle draggers like our friend here.

          • Ron /ram

            Shoot yourself!!!..This is not a political blog moron, Its sports entertainment fool!!!

          • Mike Riley

            I really hope this moron isn’t really a Raider fan. I also dont wish cancer or any terminal disease but really hope for society’s sake he’s sterile.

    • PFFSamMonson

      Daunte Culpepper injured his knee, not his arm. Was never the same QB again.

      • PFFSamMonson

        On the flip side, Drew Brees injured his throwing shoulder, not his legs, became a Hall of Famer. Injuries are strange like that.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Of course the obvious question is this: If Lynch can come out of retirement and be an instant beast then why aren’t other teams taking an interest? Even if there is anything actually behind this rumor the Raiders would be better off looking for a long term solution in the upcoming draft.

    • Noneyobiz

      He will only come out of retirement to be a Raider. Its not that others teams wouldnt be interested, its that he only has interest in becoming a Raider

      • crosseyedlemon

        The Raiders won’t be offering anything resembling a fair contract if they know they are the only team being considered.

        • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

          he’s already under contract though, and would need either a release or trade from seattle, so he won’t have to negotiate assuming SEA won’t let just let him leave for free to OAK

          • crosseyedlemon

            Lynch is contributing nothing to the Hawks so I imagine they would be happy to get any kind of compensation through a trade. The Raiders appear to be a very legitimate AFC threat again this season, even without Lynch so I don’t expect they are going to offer much. He could provide some short term depth but they really should be looking at the draft to address their need at RB.

          • warcrimes

            Nothing stopping the Raiders form acquiring Lynch AND drafting a bruising RB for the future

          • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

            agree that raiders are a threat, but i don’t think they’re even as good as the chiefs in 2017, lynch would possibly change that so they should pursue it heavily i think

          • crosseyedlemon

            Offensively I think the Raiders are better than KC, even without Lynch, because Carr can carry the team in a way Smith can’t carry the Chiefs. Both teams were atop the all important turnover ratio chart last season and that will always compensate for some weaknesses in other areas.

          • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

            i feel as though andy reid can compensate for what alex lacks, and tyreek hill and travis kelce are much tougher matchups than cooper and crab

          • crosseyedlemon

            Is it fair to use Andy Reid against me knowing he’s my favorite coach? lol.

          • Bryan Keith Small

            Cook is every bit as good as Kelce. The Chiefs just use him more because they dont have a true #1 wideout.

          • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

            yea, no, lol. cook is nowhere near kelce’s level. cook’s best season isn’t even close to kelce’s worst season. kelce is used more because he is one of the toughest individual matchups in all of football, at any position.

    • TravTuckdontgivenofuck

      He isn’t entertaining offers from any other teams and reportedly has no interest in playing EXCEPT for Oakland.

    • Tomi H

      Lol. The reason other teams aren’t interested… is that they are but the $9M cap number is tricky plus Beastmode obviously showed only interest in the Raiders until the Patriots thing came up today, which my gut feeling is that he’s only using the Pats to force a decision out of Oakland. He knows that if you’re a Raider fan the last thing fans want to see is him going to our Nemesis.

      They’re going to pursue both Marshawn and another Bruiser in the draft. I really like Samaje Perine from Oklahoma. Watch this kids film. He’s an absolute monster. Like trying to stop a train. And he blocks and catches out of the backfield. He had a 450 yard game his Freshman or Sophomore year.

  • dbonedig

    He would be a great add to the Raiders and with his assistance, the Raiders to the Super Bowl. He is done, as for an every down back. But, 2 years maybe, as a situational back.