During the offseason, the Raiders made an interesting gamble to release their goal line hammer, Latavius Murray, and bring on retired running back, Marshawn Lynch, as his replacement.
The experiment wasn’t exactly a failed one, especially being that Lynch seemed to find his legs toward the end of the season at a time when no other player on the team was producing. That’s not to say that Lynch’s season deserves a ringing endorsement either. When it was all said and done, Lynch racked up a total of 891 yards while sharing time with both DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. As a three-back unit, they totaled 1,319 total rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, which is typically the output of just one good running back. In terms of ‘big’ rushing games, there were only two 100-yard rushing games by any single back on the Raiders. That back was Marshawn Lynch.
The fact of the matter is that Marshawn Lynch isn’t an every down back anymore. More so, Coach Jack Del Rio didn’t know how to utilize Lynch’s skill set correctly. Going forward, the Raiders will need to rethink their running game.
Which brings us to the free-agent-to-be, Patriots running back, Dion Lewis.
For all intents and purposes, Lewis is a little guy. He fits into the Danny Woodhead class of backs when it comes to size, but runs big like Le’Veon Bell when the heavy lifting needs to be done.
During the regular season, Lewis rushed for 896 yards on 180 carries, averaging a solid five yards per carry. He turned six of those touches into touchdowns, and also tossed in two 100 yard games while sharing time with three other backs. There’s more. Lewis also snagged 32 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns, not including the one touchdown he scored on a kickoff return. All in all, Lewis piled up 1,680 total yards. Even when you subtract Lewis’ kickoff return yards (570), he still outran every back on the Raiders roster.
Quarterback Derek Carr’s biggest problem is that he doesn’t have a check down option out of the backfield. Dion Lewis would not only fill that void, but he could also keep defenses honest due to his versatile running style.
Dion Lewis would give the Raiders, if they decided to couple him with Marshawn Lynch, a legit thunder and lightning combination. Very similar to what the Patriots had when LeGarrette Blount was part of the 2016 Super Bowl team. Though both DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard have flashed moments of greatness at the position, neither Oakland back appears ready to run the show like Lewis.
Again, Lewis is the best anecdote to relieve the pressure off of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. It’s a move that potential head coach, Jon Gruden, should move quickly on once he inks his new contract. If not, Coach Mike Shanahan sits right across the Bay Bridge, and he and Jimmy Garoppolo would surely welcome Lewis in a heartbeat.
The Raiders have a two year window before they hightail off to Las Vegas, so it’s time for them to crack open the brief cases one last time and go all in at the card table. Get Lewis.