Oakland Raiders: Expectations for Marshawn Lynch in 2017

May 23, 2017; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) reacts during organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
May 23, 2017; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) reacts during organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders lured running back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. How will they handle his workload? What should we expect?

The Oakland Raiders decision to acquire Marshawn Lynch speaks to the team’s confidence in the offensive line and the running back’s desire to become part of something special. There’s a palpable excitement among players and fans to see Beast Mode, an Oakland native, in a Raiders uniform, but it’s still uncertain as to what we should expect from the 31-year-old running back.

On Sept. 10, Lynch will see action in a game that matters for the first time in 20 months. Expect to see Beast Mode rip off consistent four-to-five yard runs up the middle behind a much better offensive line in comparison to the Seattle Seahawks run protection in 2015.

The coaching staff will rely on Lynch to close the deal late in games, especially in playoff scenarios. He’s going handle 12-14 carries per game similar to Latavius Murray from the previous season. Don’t be surprised if Beast Mode falls slightly below the 200-carry mark.

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Due to Lynch’s physical run style, he’s played all 16 games in four out of nine campaigns. He started every game in a single season once in 2013.

In Seattle, Lynch logged close to or more than 300 rush attempts every year as the workhorse back. In Oakland, he’s sharing the backfield with two dynamic second-year running backs, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. The Raiders don’t need the 31-year-old tailback to be Beast Mode for all 16 games. He may miss a few contests for precautionary reasons. It’s more important for him to play at an optimal level at the right time.

Many Raiders fans remember this particular run when it became clear Lynch ran with a different mindset than any other ball-carrier in the league:

Oakland needs that type of run when temperatures drop in December and potentially in January for postseason play. At that time, it’s important to ensure Lynch plays with enough spring in his step and power behind his pads to control or take over games in the fourth quarter.

Many have made an issue about Beast Mode simply observing during organized team activities in May, per ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez. It’s expected the coaching staff will ease him into action, and we shouldn’t expect anything more once the season starts in September.

At this point in Lynch’s career, it’s not about volume and taking close to 300 carries. Efficiency matters most for a team looking to make a deep postseason run with a balanced offense.

In three out of four years with a minimum of 20 postseason carries, Lynch’s yards-per-carry average increased when comparing his regular season to playoff production:

Marshawn Lynch Regular Season vs. Marshawn Lynch Postseason

(Minimum 20 postseason carries)

YearYards Per Carry Regular SeasonYards Per Carry Postseason

*Averaged 4.4 yards per carry with Buffalo Bills and 3.5 yards per carry with Seahawks.

Assuming the Raiders reach the postseason, Lynch’s rush attempts and snap count should increase significantly whether the team plays in inclement weather or inside a dome.

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For the most part, Beast Mode will pound the football in goal-line and short-yardage situations. A run at 1,000 yards may be slightly out of reach when splitting the attempts with two developing ball-carriers. On the other hand, it’s realistic to expect him to match or surpass Murray’s 12-touchdown total from the previous season.

Marshawn Lynch’s 2017 Stat Prediction: 196 attempts, 902 yards, 14 touchdowns, 4.6 yards per carry.