Coming home. That’s a dream scenario that never reaches fruition for professional athletes. So, it’s no wonder the outpouring of support Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch receives from fellow Oaklanders.
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“For Shawn to finish off this last little stretch of his career at home, that’s dope,” Marcus Peters, the Kansas City Chief’s lockdown cornerback said at a youth football camp in Alameda.
“He gets to drive out of that building every day and go right back to the house, right back to the ‘hood’,” said New York Giants backup quarterback Josh Johnson. “He’s doing something that all of us get to dream and we all play in the NFL, so that’s a blessing right here, but the fact that one of us gets to do it at home, that’s amazing.”
The euphoria is legit. It will last well into the season. However, what about reality? The last time we saw Lynch in the NFL, his health was waning and he averaged (to his standards) a meager 3.8 yards per carry in seven games (417 yards, three touchdowns) with the Seahawks in 2015. This offseason, Lynch appears in outstanding shape and health in the various videos that appear online (his running and cutting in sand in combat boots was particularly impressive). A year off the grid iron can do that to an athlete.
Beast Mode redefined? The Raiders are banking on it. Without question, it would be outstanding if Lynch returns to the 1,000-yard plus rusher of yesteryear. But Oakland doesn’t necessarily need that. More than yards, what Derek Carr and the Raiders offense needs is Lynch’s punishing, rue-the-day style of running.
Massive amounts of yards — while that would be spectacular — won’t compare to the continuous battering of the opposition’s defense. Even if he’s gaining only three yards, you know Lynch will earn every inch and the players on the other side of the line of scrimmage are going to hurt for it. Latavius Murray rarely doled out punishment.
Derek Carr’s best friends remains a pounding running game. Lynch, behind that offense line should tax defensive conditioning. Additionally, fatigued and aching defense will contend with quicker and more elusive tailbacks Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Eventually, defenses will break under the enormous strain of dealing with Lynch. That’s Beast Mode, redefined.