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Five things to know about running game coordinator/RBs coach Anthony Lynn

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn answers a question from a reporter during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn answers a question from a reporter during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Washington Commanders have finalized their coaching staff for the 2024 season, and is going to spend the next few weeks providing an inside look at their backgrounds and what they can add to the team.

Next up is running game coordinator/running backs coach Anthony Lynn.

1. He was a talented college running back at Texas Tech.

Prior to starting his coaching career as a special teams assistant for the Denver Broncos in 2000, Lynn was a running back from Texas Tech and later a journeyman player at the NFL level.

Lynn's final season at Texas Tech was cut short by injury, but he saw the bulk of his success as a junior. He rushed 884 yards and eight touchdowns, earning him an All-Southwest Conference selection. Over the three years that he saw significant playing time, Lynn rushed for 1,972 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns to go with 37 passes for 300 receiving yards.

Lynn went undrafted because of injury concerns but spent six seasons playing for the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. He was also a reserve player when the Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998. 

Lynn retired in 2000 due to back injuries and jumped right into being a coach, joining the Broncos' staff and kickstarting a 24-year career.

2. He has experience as a head coach.

Lynn has had several stops in his career. After spending three seasons with the Broncos, Lynn went on to coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and 49ers. Some of his most valuable experiences, however, came when he was with the Los Angeles Chargers, where he served as the franchise's head coach for four seasons.

Lynn's most successful year came in 2018, when the Chargers earned a playoff berth with a 12-4 record, which included them winning seven of their nine games after a Week 8 bye. It was the Chargers' best record since 2009, when they led the AFC West by going 13-3, and the fifth time in franchise history that the team notched at least 12 wins. Quarterback Philip Rivers recorded at least 4,000 yards for the 10th time in his career, completing 68.3% of his passes and throwing 32 touchdowns.

The 2018 season was the only time the Chargers made the playoffs under Lynn, but several players had individual success in his final two seasons with the team. Keenan Allen, Melvin Ingram III and Joey Bosa earned Pro Bowls in 2019; Austin Ekeler had 92 receptions for 993 yards and eight touchdowns; and quarterback Justin Herbert set rookie records in passing touchdowns (31) and total touchdowns (36) along with being named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year.

3. He knows how to develop a strong ground attack.

Let's get into one of the biggest reasons why Lynn was included on Washington's staff. Most of his career has been dedicated to the running game. He's coached running backs at seven teams, including Washington, and that's because there aren't many coaches who are better at building a dominant ground attack.

Lynn's first opportunity to coach running backs came with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003. In his first season, the Jaguars ranked eighth in rushing yards, and while they dropped to 16th in 2004, Fred Taylor did lead the team with 1,224 yards.

From there, Lynn spent two seasons with the Cowboys from 2005-06 and finished in the top half of the league in rushing yards in both seasons. In 2006, the Cowboys finished third in rushing touchdowns, helped by Marion Barber ranking third among all running backs with 14 rushing touchdowns. 

Lynn had his longest stint with the Jets, spending time with the team from 2009-14. The Jets ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards per game in four of Lynn's six seasons. As the assistant head coach, Lynn helped the Jets average 142.5 yards per game, which led the AFC.

In the two seasons that Lynn coached for the Bills, the team led the league in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and yards per carry.

4. He gets the most out of his players.

Lynn has worked with several running backs during his time in the NFL, and many of them go on to have standout performances with his help.

Taylor, who spent 11 seasons in Jacksonville, is one of the earliest examples. He had the best season of his career with Lynn as his coach in 2003, when he rushed for 1,572 yards -- ranking sixth in the league -- and six touchdowns. 

But Taylor wasn't the only player who succeeded with Lynn. Barber's 14 rushing touchdowns were his most in a single season; Jamal Lewis had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with Lynn as his coach in Cleveland; former Jets running back Shonn Green was at his best working with Lynn, racking up 2,117 yards combined in 2011 and 2012; D'Andre Swift improved in his second season, rushing for 617 yards on 151 attempts in 2021 with Lynn as his offensive coordinator; and Christian McCaffrey led the league in rushing yards in his first full season with the 49ers after being traded by the Carolina Panthers.

Now, Lynn gets to work with Brian Robinson Jr. and Chris Rodriguez, both of whom have already shown promise early in their careers. Lynn's previous work indicates that both players will benefit from him as their new coach.

5. He's going to be an important resource for Kliff Kingsbury.

Commanders offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury made it a point to bring in coaches with diverse backgrounds to put together Washington's new scheme. It's going to be a collaborative effort, with each coach bringing something different to the system.

Other than Kingsbury himself, Lynn is the only other person on the offensive side of the ball to have experience as a head coach, and Kingsbury knows how valuable that will be for him.

"To have a guy like that, a football mind like that, a leader like that, is huge for us," Kingsbury said.

Aside from having an extensive track record with running backs, Lynn is also one of the most experienced coaches on the staff. He's seen the league change from teams leaning on strong running games to relying more on receivers, but he's still found ways to get the most out of his players. And while Kingsbury will be the one calling the shots on offense, he's excited to have Lynn around to add his expertise to the scheme.

"He's been a head coach. Another Texas Tech Red Raider, which you can't have enough of those rocket scientists on the staff," Kingsbury said. "So, we're going to see where it fits in. He's had a tremendous track record with running backs and run schemes and things like that. And so that'll be a big part of his role. But once again, this will be collaborative."

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