It’s that time again, Raider Nation with the offseason finally here! The Raider Ramble brings you our players review series and we’re starting with rookie sensation Josh Jacobs.
One of the Raiders first round picks made an immediate impact and is now a cornerstone player as the team heads to Las Vegas. Jacobs came in like a wrecking ball and established himself as a force in the NFL as he revived the team’s run game in head coach Jon Gruden’s second year.
While he wasn’t directly traded for in the Khalil Mack trade, he arrived in Silver and Black due to that circumstance. The 24th overall pick, hailing from Tulsa, was part of a foundational rookie class that is expected to make the Raiders competitive for the next decade.
It didn’t take long for Jacobs to show why Raiders brass was so high on him. In Week 1 versus the Denver Broncos, he rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Then, after a Week 2 loss against the Chiefs, where he rushed for 99 yards, he showed he belonged as he totaled 123 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Bears: The Raiders officially had landed their running back of the future.
The game against the Chicago signaled the arrival of Jacobs but he had other noteworthy performances. In a loss against the Packers the following week, the rookie rushed for 124 yards and had one of of his best games as far as average yards per attempt with 5.90, which was behind Week’s 2 and 13 (8.25 and 6.12 respectively).
In all, the running back had four games where he scored at least once and had three games with two rushing touchdowns.
When we all look back at the draft, I vividly remember many folks questioning whether it was smart to draft a running back in the first round. Thankfully, general manager Mike Mayock and Gruden are the ones calling the shots. It’s uncanny how accurate Matt Miller’s scouting report of Jacobs for Bleacher Report truly was back in April.
—Powerful, violent runner with the mindset to lower his pads and run through contact while giving maximum effort on all runs.
—Rarely loses yards and is a fall-forward kind of back who will get skinny or truck his way through an opening.
—Looks patient but does everything fast.
It’s fair to say this described Jacobs quite accurately. Running patiently behind one of the best offensive lines in football with a guard like Gabe Jackson and another important rookie, fullback Alec Ingold.
#Raiders run crack toss left to RB Jacobs (@iAM_JoshJacobs) for 15 yards. WR motions down to block the DE. Key blocks on the 2nd level by the RG Jackson (@bigsmooth61) who cuts the backside LB and LG Incognito (@68INCOGNITO) who blocks playside LB.#RaiderNation
— RaiderRamble.com™ (@TheRaiderRamble) November 28, 2019
One negative from that report that stands out was:
—Doesn’t have run-away speed to rip off explosive chunk plays.
Interesting, considering that Jacobs’ longest run of the season was actually 51 yards and he averaged 4.80 yards per attempt for the season. So perhaps Miller’s comparison of Jacobs to Frank Gore turned out to be fairly accurate.
What cannot be disputed that Jacobs revitalized the running game that was underwhelming the previous year. Doug Martin led the team in 2018 with 723 rushing yards while averaging 4.2 yards per attempt.
A Look Forward…
Richie Incognito was re-signed by the Raiders and Rodney Hudson isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so the offensive line should be a force again, which bodes well for Jacobs. As with any running back, there’s always an underlying fear of wear and tear.
Jacobs missed four games and also revealed he played a large portion of the season while being hurt. The kid is definitely tough and barring a catastrophic injury he’ll be a major offensive cog in Vegas.
Let’s not forget as well that Jacobs could possibly win Offensive Rookie of the Year, a cherry on top of what was a truly explosive debut.
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