If Jon Gruden had a Hall of Fame vote, it’s likely he would vote for running back Marshawn Lynch once he calls it a career.
It’s a no-brainer for the Oakland Raiders coach .
“He’s a Hall of Fame back without a doubt,” Gruden said Wednesday. “He can catch it, he can run it. He plays with passion and practices with passion. He’s a great player, and I’m happy to be here with him.”
During the Raiders’ 45-42 overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the 32-year-old Lynch gathered the offensive line and rallied his teammates.
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“He was saying basically that we’re putting the game on our backs,” Raiders right tackle Kolton Miller said. “They’re running behind us; it starts with us. He gave us really encouraging words. He said, ‘I’m going to run with y’all’ — and that really boosted us.”
Gruden said Lynch, who finished with 130 yards on 20 carries, “leads by example” and “raises the level of people around him.”
Quarterback Derek Carr and Lynch often talk, especially in the locker room going over football to non-football related topics.
“He’s a great teammate,” CArr said. “I haven’t met a player — someone in Seattle, Buffalo or here ... anybody that’s been with him — that didn’t like him as a teammate. He’s a great teammate, and if you ever need anything for some kids or if you need someone to be there, he’s always there.”
Such as during training camp, when Lynch gave pointers to Raiders rookie running back Chris Warren, who’s on injured reserve.
“He’s always there to talk to the young guys,” Carr said. “After every rep Chris Warren would have, he (Lynch) would go talk to him and just teach him something. Whatever they were talking about, I have no clue how to run the ball, obviously, except in short yardage. We have to get on Marshawn about that, but he does something that is so special for our team that he goes to a guy that maybe that will not even make the team, but he sees value in him; he creates a conversation and he creates a moment for him to try to get better.”
In the first four weeks of the season, Lynch has 68 carries for 300 yards and three touchdowns. His 300 yards ranks fourth in the NFL behind the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott (400), the Rams’ Todd Gurley (338) and the 49ers’ Matt Breida (313).
“He runs hard,” Raiders center Rodney Hudson said of Lynch. “He knows how to get into that second level and finish. He never goes down initially. He tries to get to that second level and keep pushing.”
After a 28-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins that dropped the Raiders to 0-3, Lynch said “what’s most important is that we rally behind each other more than anything.”
That is what the Raiders did after trailing the Browns 42-34 with 4:20 remaining before tying the score to send the game to overtime. They eventually won on rookie Matt McCrane’s field goal.
Lynch did more than his part in the victory. His longest run went for 52 yards — his longest of the season.
“You watched an 0-3 football team the other day and how much it meant to him,” Gruden said. “He’s just a great competitor. He’s probably not the most outspoken guy we have, but he leads by example and he certainly raises the level of people around him. When you see him playing and competing that hard, you want to do the same for him.”
Raiders defensive end Bruce Irvin certainly has seen his share of Beast Mode; they were teammates in Seattle and now in Oakland. He’s enjoyed how Lynch breaks tackles for extra yards.
According to Pro Football Focus, Lynch leads the NFL with 20 forced missed tackles, earning an NFL-best 105.4 elusive rating. He had 10 forced missed tackles against the Browns.
“He’s Beast Mode, that’s just his thing,” Irvin said. “I wouldn’t want to give it to ... nobody else with the game on the line.”
Said wide receiver Jordy Nelson: “The punishment he delivers, the way he finishes and the amount of guys are hanging on him, eventually trying to get him down is incredible. I don’t think too many guys can do what he does, the way he runs with physicality and still have the burst to get on the sideline like he did in the last week ... it’s fun to be a part of.”
Carr offered a simple reason why comes Lynch is successful.
“It just comes down to him wanting to impose his will,” he said. “At the end of the day, as a competitor, he’s not going to quit at any moment on the field. That’s Marshawn. He’s not going to quit on anything or quit on anybody, especially his teammates. When he goes out there, you see him running the same in the first quarter as he does in the fourth quarter.
“We talked about that after the game. People say, ‘Do you get tired?’ Well, maybe, but he just doesn’t quit. He’s still going to impose his will, and guys tackling him have to know they may hit him good once, but you’re going to have to do it again in the second, third quarter and fourth quarters 30 times. In Marshawn’s mind, he’s going to try to outlast people, and that’s what makes him special.”
Penn to injured reserve - Raiders right tackle Donald Penn (groin) was put on injured reserve, with a chance to come back later in the season, Gruden said. The Raiders signed offensive lineman Ian Silberman off Tennessee’s practice squad. He was with Oakland during training camp. Third-round draft pick Brandon Parker will start in Penn’s place.
Harris honored — Wide receiver/return specialist Dwayne Harris was named the Week 4 AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. He recorded five punt returns for 98 yards, including a 49-yard return in the fourth quarter that led to a field goal. The return was the longest by a Raider since 2010.