Raiders

Are Fans In Store For Something Special From Raiders RB Josh Jacobs?

Madden Ratings’ top ten list dropped and Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is ranked 89 overall and the No.8 featured back in the league. An improvement over his 88 rating from last year. Regardless, while we briefly look back at 2020, are we in store for something special from Jacobs this year?

A brief look back at 2020…

Jacobs was named to the Pro Bowl roster in 2020, his first nod. He finished with the fourth-most rushing touchdowns (12) in the league, in conjunction with his third-most carries (273) and eighth-most yards (1065). Despite not breaking out many long carries, Jacobs continued to move the chains with 61 carries gaining a first down. Jacobs saw a lot of stacked boxes, yet, continued to plow through the defense while fending off multiple injuries. Finishing with the sixth most broken tackles (20), the seventh most yards after contact (540 yards, 2.0 YAC).

When Jacobs got it going, he scored in bunches. Out of the seven games he scored in, four of them were multiple scoring games. In 2020, the Raiders offensive line ranked 20th with 2.4 yards before contact, 19th in yards per attempt (4.2), and 14th with 1,916 rushing yards. With this type of production, it’s easy to see why the Raiders front office cut bait on the highest-paid offensive line in the league with three starters making an exorbitant amount of money.

Causes for concern

Jacobs’s punishing running style causes injuries and inconsistency. Being available for 15 games is an improvement over 13 in 2019. A true testament to his warrior spirit, Jacobs played injured and still produced. However, there are some alarm bells in terms of play that head coach Jon Gruden, offensive coordinator Greg Olson, and general manager Mike Mayock should already be aware of.

Things to watch

For starters, Jacobs broke the century mark in 2019 four times and ran for 99 yards in another contest. Jacobs opened in 2020 with three rushing touchdowns against the Carolina Panthers. He would follow it up with being held scoreless for three straight weeks. In 2020, he only eclipsed 100 yards twice, and only once after Week 8. Broken tackles and yards after contact were also in decline based on his previous production from 2019. Having the advantage of playing in two more games and despite having 31 more carries, Jacobs’s rushing total still went down 85 yards.

At home, in Allegiant Stadium, Jacobs recorded four scores while averaging a measly 3.62 yards per carry and 64.3 yards per game. A friendly reminder but in college, Jacobs was not the primary back.

2021 Expectations

Betting against Jacobs would be silly, the Raiders have done everything they can to help alleviate as much wear and tear as they can. The offensive line is smaller and quicker. A line capable of exploding out of their stances and winning at the point of attack. A line that can escort Jacobs to the second level of the defense and beyond. Signing a true backup in Kenyan Drake is only going to benefit Jacobs and the Raiders. Together, Drake and Jacobs have the potential to be one of the most dangerous one-two punches in the league.

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*Top Photo: David Zalubowski/Associated Press

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