Raiders

Raiders 2020 Rewind: RB Josh Jacobs thrived despite sophomore slump

Running back Josh Jacobs took the league by surprise with an incredible rookie season in 2019. He took a small step back this year, but still turned in a very impressive campaign despite the Las Vegas Raiders’ offensive setbacks. Let’s take a look at his 2020 season. 

Injuries struck the Raiders offensive line

Before getting into this rewind, injuries to the Raiders’ offensive line this year must be acknowledged. The unit was one of the best in the league in 2019. However, injuries to some key players took a toll in 2020.

Guard Richie Incognito was one of the best lineman in football in 2019. He played all 63 snaps against the Panthers in the season opener, but only played 11 the following week, as he ended up missing the rest of the season with a foot injury. Trent Brown, the Raiders high-priced right tackle only saw the field six weeks this season. The line saw a lot of turnover this year. To add insult to injury, there was even a week where the entire unit missed practice due to COVID protocols. Jacobs was still able turn in an impressive season to despite this, but its important to recognize that this could have very well hurt his production.

Related: Raiders CB Damon Arnette’s disappointing rookie year has come to an end

The pros

There are a lot of good things to notice when analyzing Jacob’s performance. The first is obviously that the Raiders have a terrific young running back on their hands. The Alabama standout put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in his first two years, and he’s still only 22. He runs with purpose, and brings an old-school style of running that fits Gruden’s offense perfectly. His excellent vision and eye for contact make for a very entertaining and impressive style of play, as you’ll see below:

 

Jacobs has proven himself plenty worthy of being the Raiders’ running back of the future. His “sophomore slump” still totaled 1,065 rushing yards, 238 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He really is a complete back, and one Raider Nation is right to be very excited about.

The cons

As slight as it may’ve been Jacobs’ sophomore slump still existed. His yards per game declined substantially, from 4.8 to 3.9, which places him 43rd among eligible runners in the NFL. His yards per game also dropped by nearly 20, from 88.5 in 2019 to just 71 in 2020. Moreover, he only amassed 100 yards twice in 2020. He did it once against Cleveland Browns and the other in the Raiders’ first matchup against the Denver Broncos. For comparison, he reached the 100-yard mark five times in 2019, and only fell short of 60 twice, compared to four times this year.

The offensive line struggles and injuries were there, but again, they likely played a roll in some of the stat categories he dropped in. On the other hand, many other running backs deal with the same struggles and are able to total more than four yards per carry, something ’24’ was unable to accomplish this year.

Looking back, it would be a crime to not give Jacobs the credit he deserves. The Raiders offense was nothing short of a rollercoaster in 2020. it saw highs and lows throughout the season, but one of the few steady ships in a rocky sea was the running back. Jacobs has reached 1,000 yards in his first two seasons in the league, and his “sophomore slump” was still better than most running backs in 2020. He is undoubtedly one of the bright spots on this young Raiders team.

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Top Photo: Steve Flynn/USA TODAY Sports

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