Jon Gruden is back in Oakland as the Raiders head coach for the first time since 2001.
The ever energetic Gruden is bound to make a lot of changes in Oakland in the name of winning, but ousting Marshawn Lynch doesn't seem to be one of those on the agenda.
Lynch came out of retirement to play for his hometown Raiders on a two-year deal in 2017, but had an underwhelming comeback season. The former Seahawk managed just 891 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, looking a shell of the player he was in Seattle.
Gruden doesn't want to see that Lynch in 2018. Back on January 9 during his introductory press conference, the former Bucs Super Bowl winning coach was seemingly eager to meet with 'Beastmode', saying:
"I'm anxious to sit down with Marshawn and meet him and we'll talk about his future...He came back to the Raiders for similar reasons, I think, that I did: I think he loves Oakland, I think he loves the Raiders, and guys like him interest me, so I'm looking forward to talking to him."
Fast forward to late February and it sounds like that meeting has taken place and Gruden has laid down the law to his star running back. Well known for demanding a lot from his players, the 54-year-old has reportedly asked Lynch to go all in on the 2018 season.
In an exchange with a Raiders fan that took place while Gruden was being interviewed by MMQB.com, Gruden didn't disagree when the fan mentioned that Lynch wasn't in top shape until about Week 10 last season.
"We're not going to have that," Gruden said. "No."
From the outside, it seems like Gruden has given Lynch an ultimatum; get in shape to be an every down back for this team, or don't come back.
The former MNF analyst divulged to MMQB that he's explained to Lynch that he will need to take on a bigger role in 2018.
"I said to him: 'I need Marshawn Lynch. I don't need this part-time Lynch. I need full-time Lynch,'" Gruden said.
"We need the real deal," he continued. "If you're going to put those letters on the back of your jersey, man, you've got to back it up, Marshawn -- right? We don't need another back, we need a feature back."
The Raiders had the 25th ranked rushing attack in the league last season, something that they will need to improve to take pressure off the passing game and give them a more balanced offense.
Lynch is clearly a big part of that going forward for Gruden and he recognises he needs to get his star back in better shape.
"We've got to get him in, ah, better and stronger, through the season," Gruden noted.
A fit, healthy Lynch, raring to go for the season is a scary prospect for teams around the league, and there is no better man than Jon Gruden to motivate him.
The Raiders will be looking to bounce back from a forgettable 2017 and return to the playoffs on the back of strong offense, of which Lynch needs to be a big part.
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