Las Vegas Raiders running back Jalen Richard has always been a reliable contributor but he saw his impact lessen in 2020.
Richard has become a staple of the Silver and Black’s offensive attack since joining the team back in 2016. A reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield, he’s been one of quarterback Derek Carr’s more dependable receivers. Since 2018, Richard has been targeted 147 times by Carr, accumulating 1,068 receiving yards. Even though he has never crossed the 500 rushing yard mark, ’30’ has always been reliable when called upon.
As far as the 2020 NFL season goes, Richard has career-low numbers across the board. A lot of this isn’t necessarily his fault, as he’s been relatively healthy. Unfortunately, last season marked the first time he didn’t play in all 16 regular-season games for the Raiders. With the emergence of Devontae Booker as a solid backup to Josh Jacobs, we must ponder what the future holds for Richard in 2021.
What do numbers say for Richard and the Raiders?
Pro Football Focus took a look at Richard’s 2020 performance and it does paint a disappointing picture. However, we have to keep in mind that his usage has been trending downward the last two seasons. Jacobs becoming a Pro Bowl running back with Booker picking up the slack in spot situations has diminished Richard’s role. His overall grade in 2020 was 57.8, which was down from 66.1 in 2019. His carries also dipped in 2020, going from 39 to 22, with his total rushing yards coming in at a career-low of 123.
3rd & 10 this is too easy. Trips right, TE Waller lined up in tight slot will run the over. Safety gives big cushion, has no chance to cover him. RB Jalen Richard again with blitz pickup. QB Carr gets pressured immediately off edge but makes nice throw.#Raidernation pic.twitter.com/f5JV8Kbotc
— Ryan Holmes, MBA (@Rholm22) December 18, 2019
While Richard’s stats have gone down, his impact on the field is still felt. He has excellent awareness and IQ as a football player, since arriving with the Raiders, he has been one of the better run blockers. Look at this play above from 2019 where Richard picks up the blitz protecting Carr in the process.
This past season was no different, as you’ll see below. The fact ‘the Rocket’ is so key in plays like these means he’s still valuable to the Silver and Black. Per Spotrac, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022, so to say 2021 will be important is an understatement. We’ll have to wait and see if the team opts to keep Booker around or, perhaps, drafts a running back. At that time, we’ll know what Richard’s future looks like moving forward.
Don’t think Jalen Richard got enough credit for his role in that bomb to Ruggs. It’s not just that he picked up the SCB. It’s the fact that he completely stones him which created the lane for Derek Carr to deliver his 50-yard, off-platform jump pass. #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/geNM6FYPNR
— Chris Reed (@ChrisReed_NFL) December 9, 2020
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*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images