In the final game of the season, Marshawn Lynch eclipsed the hallowed 10,000 rushing yards milestone. This marker, aside from a hundred rushing touchdowns mark, is truly the Holy Grail for running backs. No one accomplishes it without consistency and durability. As a result, it serves as one reason why Marshawn Lynch earned his keep and should suit up for the Raiders next season.
When Lynch first entered the Raider fold, many thought his role would be largely ceremonial. People envisioned him as bubble-wrapped until the playoffs. For the first few games, e looked to shake off rust and return to his power running style. As a result, naysayers thought he would not play the entire season without injury. Given his recent injury history and brutal style, that did not appear too odd.
However, not only did he finish the season healthy, he started fifteen games. He missed the Bills game for contacting an official. It is worth acknowledging that on top of running on to the field, and being ejected, Lynch also made headlines for sitting during the national anthem. While the sitting is a staple for the entirety of his career, many took umbrage. Despite this, Lynch finished, by far the best back on the roster.
In truth, it was clear how much better the offense was when Lynch received ample carries. During the four games where Lynch received 17+ carries, the Raiders finished 3-1. Conversely 15 or less, their record drops to 3-6. Now, context matters here. With a terrible defense through the first two thirds of the season, Lynch did not see many touches.
Additionally, Lynch is not a receiving threat, as he dropped passes with daylight ahead of him. There were also some limited concerns about his overall level of preparation entering the season. In return, the coaching staff limited his touches early. However, his value to the team became known. During the Bills games, the Raiders averaged 3.9 per carry and his replacements fumbled the ball repeatedly.
As the season dragged on, Marshawn Lynch assumed the role of the most consistent offensive player. Largely, this was a result of a mix of poor coaching, offensive regression, and his own suspension.
In reality, looking at the final two games of the season, anyone can see why Lynch should return to the Raiders next season. When Oakland fell out of playoff contention, he still ran with the same ferocity. Given that point alone, Lynch should suit up for the Raiders in 2018.