Nobody will deny Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs had a good rookie season in 2019. What may come as a shock is that he can be even better in his second year in the NFL. His three-touchdown performance against the Carolina Panthers is proof he picked up where he left off last year.
Josh Jacobs gives the Raiders offense a new dimension
One of the bright spots for the Raiders last year was Jacobs. Even though he missed three games, he finished the season with 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns. Against the Panthers, he showed he was already in midseason shape and ran for 93 yards and scored three times. He helped Silver and Black control the tempo of the game and was arguably the most important player on offense.
If there was one area, Jacobs could improve in, it was his role in the passing game. He finished last season with 20 catches for 166 yards and didn’t haul in more than three passes in any game. However, he had four receptions for 46 yards against the Panthers, the most he has had in a single game. At this pace, he would finish the years with 64 catches for 736 yards. We doubt he can keep the pace but the fact he can add another dimension to the Raiders passing game is exciting.
On the other hand, the Raiders need to balance Jacobs’ load. As good as the sophomore running back is, it seems like the Raiders found a good backup in Devontae Booker, so there is no need to overwork Jacobs. Against Carolina, Booker had four carries for 29 yards and averaged 7.3 yards. He won’t supplant Jacobs as a starter but can effectively spell him from time to time.
Jacobs is putting in the work to become a complete back
If Jacobs Week 1 performance can carry over the rest of the 2020 season, he will have become a three-down back. In a conversation with Erin Coscarelli of NFL Media, former quarterback Rich Gannon said Jacobs is working towards becoming a complete running back. Gannon says Jacobs is studying other running backs and believes the Alabama standout is going to be better in his second NFL season.
I think he’s going to get even more involved in the passing game. It’ll be a great outlet for Derek. I talked to Josh at great length on Saturday about that. He’s watched a lot of players like Marshall Faulk and other backs who have been very dynamic coming out of the backfield and to be a complete back, you have to be able to be a three-down back, I think Josh Jacobs will see more of that this season with the Raiders.
Marshall Faulk is a great running back for Jacobs to model his game on. Before Christian McCaffrey achieved the feat in 2019, he was one of only to players to have 1,000 yards running and receiving in the same season. On the other hand, Jacobs doesn’t have to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season. If he can play the way he did against the Panthers and play an important role in the passing game, the Raiders offense can rank among the best in the NFL.
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Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal