Since coming out of retirement and demanding a trade to the Oakland Raiders in 2017, Marshawn Lynch has yet to face the team that he built his legacy with and that granted that request: the Seattle Seahawks. In last season’s preseason matchup between Seattle and Oakland, Lynch kept his helmet off. This upcoming August 30, the two teams face off for another exhibition, and he’s not likely to contribute then either.
But in Week 6, barring anything unfortunate for Lynch, the Seahawks defense finally gets a crack at one of the franchise’s all-time greats. If only it was the same all-time great defense that we remember, with Lynch’s former Pro Bowl teammates.
When I first dreamt up how this scenario would play out, Seattle’s defense definitely included Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, and as of right now, those two are still question marks for the 2018 season for different reasons. Obviously Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril won’t be there either. But there’s more than enough on the table here to make Week 6 as exciting of a reunion as I’d hoped it would be.
The highest graded #Raiders offensive players by position in 2017:— PFF OAK Raiders (@PFF_Raiders) June 18, 2018
QB Derek Carr 77.7
RB Marshawn Lynch 84.4
WR Michael Crabtree 71.4
TE Lee Smith 59.5
C Rodney Hudson 81.6
G Kelechi Osemele 78.1
T Donald Penn 78.8
Get PFF Edge for all players' grades:https://t.co/agUh0q8BNL
Tom Cable and Lynch are currently reunited in Oakland and are hoping to recreate what made them so successful with the Seahawks. Cable was finally let go by Seattle earlier this year and while I may be new around these parts, I already gather many of you did not care for him. The success that the Seahawks offense had rushing the ball in the beginning of his career as the offensive line coach is undeniable though.
It’s interesting to note however that the years that Cable struggled the most as a coach in Seattle were also the seasons that lacked Marshawn Lynch: 2016-2017. Cable seems excited to be able to work with his main offensive piece once again, this time with the Raiders:
“He’s one of the smartest football players I’ve ever known. I don’t hand that out too often.”
While Cable was having a pretty terrible year with the Seahawks, Lynch didn’t exactly appear to impress in his first season in Oakland either. In 15 games, he only rushed for 891 yards and 4.3 yards per carry. By comparison in 2014, his last healthy season in Seattle, he finished the year with 1,306 yards and 4.7. His Y/G totals were some of the lowest in his past seven seasons at 59.4, nearly identical to his injury-shortened season with the Seahawks back in 2015 and nearly as bad as his first 12-game audition with Seattle back in 2010, just before the quake that changed everything for Lynch.
But Lynch’s 2017 got better as the year went on. He did the bulk of his work in December rushing for 434 yards on 84 attempts, giving him 5.1 YPC. In the final five games of the 2017 season, the leading rusher was Miami’s Kenyan Drake at 444 yards, LA’s Todd Gurley at 440 (really that was in Gurley’s final four games), KC’s Kareem Hunt at 437, and then Lynch at 434. He was just 10 yards shy of being the leading rusher in December. At age 31.
Lynch ended up finishing ninth in both DYAR and DVOA.
This uptick in production is encouraging for another guy making a return, Jon Gruden, who already has set the bar pretty high for Lynch going into this season:
“And one of the reasons I’m excited to be with the Raiders is to join forces with Lynch. But we’ll see what happens. Obviously, we have to take a look at the entire roster. But I’m counting on him. I’m counting on him being a big part of our football team.”
Week 6 is actually the perfect timing for this matchup. We’ll have a general idea of how Lynch has been performing so far, and how this new young core of Seattle’s defense can stack up against Lynch. At the very least, we can take comfort in knowing that as of now, it seems the Seahawks still got the best years out of the beast.