After serving a one-game suspension, Marshawn Lynch has returned to the Oakland Raiders in a much-anticipated game today against the (4-3) Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football, the same stage where the team was annihilated few weeks ago.
In the past, it has not been wise to bet against Lynch; fe are fully informed when it comes to knowing who Marshawn is and what he is all about. Yet, recent criticism has led to the assumption that Lynch is no longer a difference maker, others have questioned his commitment to football given other passions (i.e., helping inner-cities, the “BeastMode” brand, and new reality shows such as Bleacher Report’s ‘No Script’).
There is no doubt that Lynch has struggled at times this season; none more troublesome than the 12 yards on nine carries he mustered against the Denver Broncos’ defense in Week 4. At the time, the team was coming off a no-show against the Washington Redskins where the team fell behind early and abandoned the run.
Apart from those two games, Lynch is averaging almost 4.2 yards per carry (close to his career average) compared to 3.7 on the entire season. He already leads the team forcing 15 missed tackles and racking up 205 yards after contact (per @AustinGayle_PFF).
The numbers are not what many expected given the talent on the offensive line and the pedigree of Lynch, but a mixture of scheme change, unfamiliarity with one another and a failure to move the chains has prevented any consistency. Still, no matter the latest suspension or louder-by-day critics, the message coming from the locker room is that they both trust and depend on Lynch.
Pro-bowl center Rodney Hudson is confident with Marshawn back in the fold, calling him a veteran who knows how to get it done from the backfield. With the Raiders’ playoff odds hovering at 4%, a key to turning around the season will start with setting the tone on offense, first by establishing the run and then stretching the defense with deep vertical routes. It will be a story to follow, especially given that Lynch has now had almost two weeks of rest and a BYE on the horizon.
The team is counting on him to show up with a beast of a performance against a Miami run defense that has let up 266 yards the last two games (per @Micah_Ramble). By doing so, it would do wonders to build confidence and form an identity for a team that has lacked both this season. A win will put them at 4-5 and give them a week to prepare for a home game in Mexico City against the New England Patriots.