Running back Josh Jacobs quickly became a staple of the Las Vegas Raiders offense in his rookie year. More impressively, he thrived in spite of defenses knowing the Silver and Black would run the ball.
Jacobs was runner up for Offensive Rookie of the Year accolades. If he didn’t win the award, it wasn’t because of lack of effort. After all, he was the second most elusive running back in the NFL last season. On the other hand, that wasn’t the only indicator of how good the Alabama product was.
Jacobs was one of the top performers at pretty much every single category in 2019, and running against loaded defenses wasn’t any different.
Man Against the Box
In a recent article, Pro Football Focus graded Josh Jacobs as the third most successful runner against stacked boxes in 2019. In order for defenses to neutralize an opponents running game, they’ll have more defenders closer to the line of scrimmage. That means they will have seven or eight players ready to stop the ground game. The fact Jacobs thrived in this kind of situation makes his success as a rookie even more impressive. Regarding Jacob’s prowess against heavy defensive fronts, the advance statistics site said the following:
“In his first season, Jacobs was one of the best runners in the NFL, period. His 86.9 rushing grade overall trailed only Lamar Jackson and Nick Chubb among all qualifying runners, and Jacobs’ performance against stacked boxes didn’t fall too far from that mark. He is one of the best in the league at making defenders miss, and he put that to use against loaded fronts. Jacobs’ 29 broken tackles on 115 attempts amounted to the third-best rate among the 39 runners in this sample.”
Since Jacobs was one of the few playmakers on the Raiders offense last year, it was easy for defenses to focus their attention on him. This upcoming season should be different though. After all the additions the team made this past offseason, the sophomore should see lighter boxes in 2020. This in turn could help him become an All-Pro.
The Raiders weren’t very good in 2019, but Jacobs wasn’t the reason why. He will continue running hard even if opposing defenses keep trying to stop him.
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Top Photo: John Hefti/Associated Press