The Las Vegas Raiders needed a bell-cow running back last year and got him when they drafted Josh Jacobs.
In recent years, teams have been wary of selecting running backs in the first round of the draft. Nevertheless, the Alabama product showed in 2019 the Raiders made the right decision. Heading into the 2020 campaign, head coach Jon Gruden plans to make good use of Jacobs.
Why do the Raiders benefit from giving Josh Jacobs the ball?
Jacobs had an immediate impact in his first season with the Raiders. He was the perfect player for Gruden’s ball control offense, and displayed playmaking prowess. Although he had some bad outings throughout the year, he was a key contributor more often than not.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs last season, Jacobs averaged seven yards per carry and rushed for 203 yards in two games. The Raiders ended up losing both matchups but it wasn’t because of the rookie running back.
If Jacobs didn’t have an even greater impact in 2019, it was because of lack of effort. He was hurting him pretty much the second half of the season. Ever since Week seven, he played with a fracture shoulder. It got to the point where it was so unbearable that the Raiders decided to shut him down for the last three games of the year.
Jacobs didn’t agree with the decision but it was one of those instances of teams protecting players from themselves. After all, if the Raiders want Jacobs to stay healthy, they have to take care of him.
Jon Gruden’s revengeful plot
To make sure Jacobs will withstand the whole season, the Raiders re-signed Jalen Richard and drafted Lynn Bowden Jr. They also signed Devontae Booker, who is on the Covid-19 list. More recently, they added Jeremy Hill. The Raiders should be able to manage Jacobs load with so much depth at the position. That is unless Gruden has other plans…
In a recent mailbag, Vic Tafur of the Athletic shared a story regarding Gruden and how he intends to use the sophomore running back in 2020. He says Gruden will give Jacobs a bigger load to spite Associated Press voters who chose Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
I heard that Gruden was so mad last year that Jacobs didn’t win Offensive Rookie of the Year (the third-best rookie, Kyler Murray, did because he is a quarterback) that he vowed that Jacobs would get more carries and more receptions to prove what a crime the voters had committed.
Tafur’s story sounds like something Gruden would say as a joke rather than something the Raiders head coach would actually do. Giving Jacobs a bigger role would run counter to what the team is trying to achieve.
First, it would undo all the efforts the Raiders have undertaken to make sure the ex-Crimson Tide running back plays a whole season. Second, why would the coaching staff risk losing Jacobs to an injury. It just doesn’t make sense and looks even petty.
Jacobs definitely gives the Raiders better odds to win football games. For that reason, the Silver and Black have to take care of him, even if that means not getting accolades.
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