Marshawn Lynch

Raiders relying on surging Lynch

marshawn_ap.jpg
AP

Raiders relying on surging Lynch

OAKLAND – Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch’s third carry of the game went 51 yards for a touchdown. Kelechi Osemele pulled to clear a path on the right side, Lynch busted through into open space and galloped into the end zone without much resistance.

Consider the play vital in Sunday’s 24-17 victory over the New York Giants. It was his longest since Dec. 21, 2014. It kickstarted an inconsistent Raiders offense playing without Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

It wasn’t his best play of the day. That came on 3rd-and-7 early in the fourth quarter, with the Raiders up just a field goal. That’s when Lynch went full Beast Mode.

Derek Carr found Lynch in the flat, with a defender bearing down. He looped left around one Giant, cut right past another. He ran over the next man up, while carrying somebody else on his back. He trudged another 10 yards after that, with a pack trying to bring him down. Vintage Lynch took 21 yards in total on a play, one that belongs on a highlight reel.

It’s something he often did during golden years in Seattle. It’s something he’s doing more and more down the stretch.

“He’s getting stronger as the season goes on,” running back DeAndre Washington said. “It’s hard to tackle that man for four quarters, you know what I am saying? He is going to wear you down regardless if he is getting two yards or the 50-yarder like he busted today. He is going to wear guys down and at this point in the season we are really going to need him.”

That was especially true Sunday, with so many skill players out. Lynch came through with 101 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, with two more catches for 20 yards. It fits a recent trend of Lynch running strong.

He has 68 carries for 292 yards and four touchdowns over his last four games, averaging 4.3 yards per rush in that span. There’s an easy dividing line in production there. Lynch was just okay, maybe a bit worse, early in the year.

The break isn’t hard to find. There has been a difference in production after he returned from a one-game suspension. Lynch missed the Week 8 loss to Buffalo as punishment for making contact with an official in a Week 7 win over Kansas City. Head coach Jack Del Rio has referenced a post-Buffalo change in Lynch several times, including Sunday night.

“I’ve seen a little more pep in the step,” Del Rio said. “There’s a little more…I can’t speak for him, I just know what I see. It’s been good. I welcome it, and we’re taking full advantage of it.”

It wasn’t just the suspension. Lynch took some time adjusted to the Raiders scheme, and the coaches and blockers to him, early in the year. That adjustment period has wrapped, and Lynch seems to feel more comfortable with his runs.

“He’s finally getting his legs back under him, and it’s showing,” said linebacker Bruce Irvin, Lynch’s teammate in Seattle. “You can tell.”

Lynch didn’t speak for himself after the latest win. He used colorful phrasing to say couldn’t talk due to a random NFL drug test, and didn’t return to the locker room.

The Raiders can see an uptick in production and comfort, and plan to capitalize on it down the stretch.

"He’s running hard, so he’s more confident, and it’s only going to get better from here," Osmele said in an interview with Raiders.com. "He’s rolling right now, so we have to keep doing our job up front and keep him rolling like that.”

It's time for Raiders to feed the Beast(Mode)

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USATSI

It's time for Raiders to feed the Beast(Mode)

ALAMEDA – Marshawn Lynch had 18 carries in his Raiders debut. The physical running back closed out the season opener at Tennessee with tough runs and a GIF-worthy trucking of Jurrell Casey.

That was not, however, a sign of things to come. His Tennessee total remains a season high. Lynch went through a lull early in the year, struggling to work well within the system.

Something, however, has changed. Lynch has been awesome lately, with 20 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns in his last six quarters. He was particularly efficient against New England averaging 6.1 yards per carry, and seemed primed for a big day had the score remained close.

Head coach Jack Del Rio doesn’t consider this surge coincidental.

Lynch upset some defending Oakland native and Kansas City Chief Marcus Peters in Week 7, an action that got him ejected and suspended one game for unsportsmanlike conduct.

He missed an embarrassing loss in Buffalo – the Raiders desperately need him then – and returned to action with a fire in his belly.

“I just like the way he came back from that whole suspension. I think he’s come back with real zest, a real exuberance to run the ball and to be on point with things,” Del Rio said. “I like the way he’s approached it. I think he’s getting a better feel for what we want to do with him, and we’re getting a better feel for what we can do with him. I think since he’s come back he’s been really good.”

That’s why it’s time to feed BeastMode. The Raiders have been working to establish a steady running game. The blocking has improved. Lynch has been running strong. And the Raiders are up against him. There’s no saving him for later. The playoffs start now.

They’ve got to go, and Lynch can lead them. Lynch’s carries have hovered in the low teens, preventing him from wearing down defenses like he did so often in Seattle.

Lynch's worst day came in the Raiders' first clash against Denver. He had just 12 yards on nine carries, as the Broncos loaded the box and forced Derek Carr to sling it into a stingy secondary.

Doesn’t matter. The Raiders should challenge the NFL’s No. 4-ranked run defense, and feature Lynch early at often. That’s what Del Rio wants to do. He has always valued tough running, and wants that to be an offensive feature down the stretch. Lynch’s carry count could increase.

“It could be a little (higher). I’d like to push him and get him a little more,” Del Rio said. “Obviously, that’s a matter of us doing things that I spoke to earlier in the week with getting the possessions offensively, converting on third down, which allows more possession, more snaps and opportunities. That’s a big part of it.”

The Raiders have to keep things close, or get a rare early lead and hold it. Lynch has been running strong, and is ready to be a truly featured back.

“He’s really been reenergized and refocused,” offensive coordinator Todd Downing said. “He’s running the ball well. I think he had something like 11 carries in the first half or something like that. We were trying to get him rocking and rolling. I’m pleased with where he’s at. Hoping to be able to feed him a little bit more.”

Trump targets Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch in Twitter rant

Trump targets Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch in Twitter rant

MEXICO CITY – The President of the United States has taken several shots at players who choose to sit during the national anthem.

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch was in his crosshairs early Monday morning.

Trump was bothered by Lynch’s actions before Sunday’s 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca.

Lynch sat for the United States’ national anthem, as he has in every game this season. Then he stood for Mexico’s anthem, though he spent most of that song getting his equipment adjusted.

The President took exception in a Twitter rant that has become a staple of his presidency.

It is believed that Lynch is sitting in protest of racial inequality, a movement popularized by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, though he has never declared that publicly. He refused to answer questions on that topic this summer.

As a point of clarification, Lynch was not booed. Anthems for both countries were cheered at NFL's annual contest held in Mexico City, with large flags for both countries displayed on the field. 

He wore a black t-shirt that read "Everybody vs. Trump" heading into a Week 4 matchup at Denver, a week after the President took on the NFL's anthem protests at a rally in Alabama. 

"Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump said on Sept. 22. "You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, “That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.” And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country."

Trump has blasted the NFL several times since on social media, and Lynch is his latest target. This time, Trump demanded Lynch be suspended the rest of the season should he sit again. The league won’t do that.

Trump won’t get his way, but with a quick tweet he brought the issue to the Raiders’ doorstep in what will become a topic in Alameda all week.

Lynch was probably asleep when Trump’s tweet went public at 5:25 a.m. ET, but still hasn't responded in any way.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was asked about Trump's tweet regarding his running back, and never addressed it directly. He reiterated his anthem preferences instead. 

"My stance on the whole thing with Marshawn and all of our players, I’ve told them how I feel," Del Rio said. "I love this country. I think it’s a great honor to be able to play football, coach football for a living. My thought is that everybody should pay respect to the flag and stand at attention. That’s how I feel about it. But it is America, and everybody can make their choice, and I’ve made that clear, too."

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf tweeted support for Lynch, easily Oakland's most popular resident. Lynch consistently performs charitable works in his hometown, and champions Oakland at every turn.