When Jon Gruden took the reins of the Oakland Raiders, he made one point clear: expect a new running game. As a result, the team designed their offseason to resemble Gruden’s vision. Over the past week, the Raiders started the process of assembling a running game to Gruden’s liking. Meanwhile, the Raiders now boast four running backs. With that crowded backfield, difficult decision will begin almost immediately.
Since Oakland picked up his option, Lynch will return to the Raiders. While no longer the 1200-yard workhorse. Instead, he wears down defenses and closes the show in the fourth quarter. Lynch plays exactly the way the Raiders hoped he would. Under Gruden, I do not expect to see his role change significantly. Despite his age and mileage, Lynch remains the undisputed lead back. Although, reuniting with Tom Cable as OL coach should see those yards per carry increase.
Stats to Know: Four of Lynch’s seven touchdowns occurred in the red zone. In addition, he converted fifteen first downs on third/fourth and short. Now, imagine him with an actual offensive scheme.
From the moment Doug Martin signed in Oakland, red flags immediately rose. First, why bring in a 29-year-old back when the draft looks deep at running back. Next, Martin has not played more than eleven games in three seasons. Not to mention, his back-to-back 2.9 yards per carry season in 2016 and 2017. To his credit, Martin impressed Gruden enough to merit a contract. At this point, no one is sure what Martin has left in the tank. On the other hand, as a backup, the Raiders will not depend on him to shoulder the load.
Stat to Know: During his career, Martin’s yards per carry dips from 4.27 in November to 3.88 In December.
Granted, Washington, with Martin’s arrival will see even fewer carries in the offense. However, to his credit, Washington does run with purpose. However, 2017 saw his ypc cut in half, from 5.4 to 2.7. Yet, Washington ability in the passing game could net him a spot on the final roster. In you years, he managed to rack up 51 catches. More importantly, he hovers around a 74 percent catch success rate. That is to say, his hands appear reliable and Derek Carr trusts him.
Stat to Know: Washington’s highest YPC came in shotgun. (5.0)
In 2016, the undrafted Richard burst on the scene. In fact, his first carry from scrimmage saw him gallop 75 yards against the Saints. However, 2017 found Richard muffing punts, bobbling passes, and lacking the burst that he displayed his rookie year. Moreover, Jon Gruden shows no patience for drops or mental mistakes. As a result of the Martin signing, Richard and Washington find themselves locked in a battle to claim the third, and perhaps final running back spot.
Stats to Know: Richard’s eight fumbles should put his roster spot in jeopardy.
Overall, Jon Gruden looks to remake the Raiders, starting with the run game. He signed two blocking tight end and gave Doug Martin a prove-it deal. With four backs currently on the roster, either Washington or Richard could find themselves on the way out.