2018 Position Review: Running Backs

The Position Review series just keeps on rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ as today we take a look at the Oakland Raiders running backs.

Originally paced by Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin stepped up, and filled in admirably for “The Beast” once his season ended in mid-October. In addition to Martin and Lynch, Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington also once again found themselves in the mix in 2018.

That said, let’s take a look back at the play of the Silver and Black’s running backs, as well as look forward to what 2019 could hold in store for the group.

*Fullback Keith Smith is also included in this position review.

Overview:

After a quality effort in his debut season back in Oakland, Marshawn Lynch once again found himself the featured back headed into 2018, but after playing in 15 of the team’s 16 regular season games in 2017, Lynch was unable to replicate that consistency in his second season as a Raider.

The former California Golden Bear was ultimately placed on the reserve/injured list on October 22, and to be fair, he was running the ball at a pretty good clip through six games, but unfortunately, an injury cut his 2018 short while the season was still in its first half.

Following his departure from the active roster, veteran running back Doug Martin stepped in and enjoyed the bulk of the carries, and truth be told, No. 28 showed that he had more than just a little juice left in those legs of his.

All told, Martin made nine starts for the Silver and Black, carrying the ball 172 times, good for 723 yards and four touchdowns.

His 723 yards on the ground resulted in his most effective campaign since 2015 when Martin was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He also proved to be an asset in the Raiders passing game, as he caught 18 passes for 116 yards.

Speaking of running backs getting involved in the aerial attack, Jalen Richard enjoyed a career year catching the ball in 2018.

While Richard carried the ball just 55 times for 259 yards, and one score, the versatile running back proved to be a hidden gem for Head Coach Jon Gruden’s offense, hauling in 68 receptions, good for 607 yards, which ranked No. 3 on the entire team.

DeAndré Washington rounded out the group, carrying the ball 30 times for 115 yards.

The Number To Know:

8.9.

That’s how many yards Jalen Richard averaged, per reception, last season.

Not too bad for a running back, huh?

In all seriousness though, Richard proved to be very much the prototypical dual-threat running back in 2018, being an absolute force as a receiver while also averaging well north of four yards per carry.

Position Group MVP:

I have to give the nod here to Doug Martin, with Jalen Richard coming in very close behind him.

Martin joined the Raiders in March after two down years in Tampa Bay, primarily to serve as the backup to Lynch, but after circumstances changed, and Martin found himself as the team’s bell cow back, the former Boise State Bronco unquestionably made the most of his opportunity.

Martin reached the 100-yard mark in a game twice this year – the first time he had reached the plateau since 2015 – and was about as reliable as the team could have hoped for, especially considering the rotating personnel along the offensive line.

Even during his seventh NFL season Martin showed that he does indeed have the juice, and his contributions to the 2018 Raiders shouldn’t be undersold.

Going Forward:

I’m fascinated to see how this position group ends up shaking out in 2019.

As of now, the only running back currently under contract for next season – fullback Keith Smith is inked for 2019 by the way – is DeAndré Washington.

Both Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin are unrestricted free agents, and Jalen Richard is a restricted free agent.

Coach Gruden said late in the season that he’d like to have Martin bold in the fold next season, and the decision on what to do with both Martin and Lynch is going to be a big question that Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock will need to answer in the coming months.

Also, I know he spent the entire season on the shelf, but don’t forget about Chris Warren III, I have a feeling the former Texas Longhorn will find himself in the mix before too long.

Reviewing the Raiders running backs from the 2018 season.

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