Heading into his first season back on the sidelines in nearly a decade, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is set to inherit a talented roster. It is headed by their potent offense that features several Pro Bowl-caliber players across the board.
However, there has been some question about whether veteran running back Marshawn Lynch will be a part of the puzzle next season under his new coach. Gruden erased any doubt concerning Lynch’s role on the team by stating that he believes the former Pro Bowler can still be a highly productive player in 2018. (h/t Levi Damien of Silver and Black Pride)
“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 is coming off a strong first season back from a one-year absence from the NFL rushing for 891 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games played. This included tallying more than 100 rushing yards twice, and more than 60 yards in each of the last seven games he took the field. The bulk of that production came in the month of December when he had his legs under him, recording 434 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns along with both of his 100-yard outing on the season.
With Gruden’s continued support and praise directed toward Lynch throughout the early portion of this offseason should result in plenty of opportunities for him to produce. Keep in mind, Gruden had stated last month that Lynch was still the “real deal” and wanted him to be the team’s “feature back” next season.
The five-time Pro Bowler has shown that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank to be an effective asset in the run game. It may just be a matter of Lynch taking advantage of the significant role in the offense he will have in front of him.