One thing has to be on the minds of the Las Vegas Raiders’ minds if they’re trying to avoid a collapse, re-establishing the run game.
It must feel like months ago when the Raiders’ offense was rolling, terrible defense be damned. Nothing changed for the defense save for a last-second stop of the awful New York Jets. That’s not an accomplishment to be proud of, though a win is a win. On the other hand, the offense is what was working for the Silver and Black all year long, led by the efficient quarterback, Derek Carr. An intangible that’s been overlooked is the running game, a facet that head coach Jon Gruden has gone away from recently.
It’s been an uneven year for star running back, Josh Jacobs. This is coming on the heels of an impressive rookie season in 2019. Production from ’28’ has been all over the place when it comes to his carries, especially since Week 8. In that game, Jacobs had 31 carries and totaled 129 yards, but since then, he has only surpassed 20 carries once. That performance came in Week 11, after that, Jacobs has seen 17, seven, and 13 carries each game, respectively. We all know the sophomore hasn’t been himself in 2020, and a nagging ankle injury has only made things worse. The Raiders’ offensive line has also seen a sharp decline in their ability to establish the run late in the season, as injuries have taken a toll. Be that as it may for the Silver and Black, not all is doom and gloom.
What can the Raiders do starting Thursday night?
The biggest positive this Las Vegas team can now look forward to is the fact that Trent Brown is back. In spite of the loss against the Indianapolis Colts, seeing their starting right tackle return is huge in this final stretch. Gruden has to get Jacobs going any way he can, run behind ’77’ on the outside, whatever it takes.
Distribution to backup running back Devontae Booker has also been somewhat uneven, but like Jacobs, there are reasons for this. Yes, back in Week 10, Booker had 16 carries go for 81 yards, scoring two touchdowns. Undoubtedly, this was Booker’s best game of 2020 but since then, he only has 30 carries, with 16 of those coming in lieu of Jacobs missing Week 13. If a banged-up offensive line can’t get Jacobs going, what chance does Booker really have?
On Thursday Night Football, the Raiders have to come out with a sense of desperation and leave nothing to chance. They must impose their will from the outset, we all know Joey Bosa is gunning for Carr, if Gruden can stick to the run game, it’ll go a long way towards taking pressure off of him. This Raiders team has been most successful when Carr doesn’t overthrow and there’s balance with their running backs. We and the rest of the world will be watching.
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