Marshawn Lynch showed that ‘Beast Mode’ is back in his first game with Raiders

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A study of Lynch's Week 1 game tape reveals that he can still play at his usual high level.

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Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 76 yards on 18 carries in Oakland’s win over the Titans. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) )

When the Raiders made the move to bring running back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement this offseason, there were obvious questions about whether he could have an impact. Lynch had played just seven games in 2015 before retiring and sitting out the entire 2016 season.

But the Raiders convinced him to return for his hometown team, and early indications suggest it was a worthwhile move. Lynch looked like the “Beast Mode” of old in the Raiders’ season-opening, 26-16 win against the Titans, running with power and purpose that was obvious from his first carry of the game.

On second and four, the Raiders hand off to Lynch on an outside zone play to the right, his go-to play in Seattle. Lynch runs on his path toward the edge, but a Titans safety works down toward the line of scrimmage to try to plug the gap. Lynch spots him coming early, but presses the edge to ensure the safety works outside into the path of the right guard. That enables Lynch to cut back inside into the area vacated by the safety.

At the second level, Lynch cuts back once more to elude a pursuing linebacker before powering through a defensive back and falling forward for even more yards. He displays not only his well-known power, but also his subtle ability to set up blocks and cutback lanes.

One of the big reasons the Raiders wanted Lynch was his ability to convert in short yardage situations. At the end of the first quarter, Lynch did exactly that.

This play is designed for Lynch to pound the ball up the middle behind his offensive line. However, the Titans dominate the line of scrimmage and take away all rushing lanes. They also have safety Johnathan Cyprien flying into the backfield unblocked. With little help, Lynch makes a sharp cut to sidestep Cyprien behind the line of scrimmage. He’s then met with an unblocked linebacker, who gets dragged along for the ride as Lynch powers his way through for a first down.

Lynch also showed his worth at the end of the game. With a seven-point lead late in the fourth quarter, Lynch is the perfect back to hand the ball off to and eat up the clock, which is exactly what the Raiders did.

This is another outside zone play to the right for Lynch, but this time he has to cut it back much earlier than before. The Titans get a penetrator on the edge, which forces Lynch to cut back three yards behind the line of scrimmage. When he cuts back and bursts toward the line, he’s met by an unblocked Jurrell Casey, who signed a four-year, $60 million contract extension with the Titans this offseason. Casey is listed as 85 pounds heavier than Lynch, who drops his pad level and runs over one of the best defensive tackles in the league. That devastating truck move turned what should have been no gain into a six-yard gain and set up a third and short situation to potentially finish off the game after the two minute warning.

The Raiders were understandably cautious with Lynch and held him to a somewhat low pitch-count of 18 carries. While his 76 yards at 4.2 yards per carry won’t necessarily blow anyone away, the signs were that Marshawn Lynch is back and the NFL needs to be aware that “Beast Mode” is still very much a force to be reckoned with.

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