2021 Raiders Rewind: RB Josh Jacobs

After his second 1,000-yard season in 2020, expectations were again high for Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs in 2021. It was, though, an up and down season for the veteran ball carrier. Here’s an in-depth look.

Injuries and early struggles

In Week 1 of the 2021 season, the Raiders would face off against the Baltimore Ravens. It would also be the first game with the totally revamped offensive line that was the story of the offseason. Unfortunately for Jacobs, the running game was difficult to establish in this one. However, he was able to be a factor in the game with a pair of rushing touchdowns in what ended up being a high-scoring affair. More importantly, Jacobs would suffer lower leg injuries that led to him missing the next two games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins.

When Jacobs made his return against the Los Angeles Chargers, he clearly seemed off. So much so that from Week 4 to 7, he had just 170 yards rushing. While he did have three touchdowns in that time frame, the Raiders badly needed more production on the ground. After the bye week, Jacobs would record thirteen carries for 76 yards against the New York Giants before he posted his worst game of the season against Kansas City with seven carries for sixteen yards.

Then came the Thanksgiving game in Dallas. In that game, he would record 22 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown. With flashes of the Jacobs that Raiders fans know and love, fans began to wonder if he had returned for good. Alas, the answer was not yet. The lowest moment came in Week 14, when he had just nine carries for 24 yards and fumbled on the first play from scrimmage that would be returned for a touchdown. The slander came from every direction for Jacobs, as critics called him washed up and wondered if his time in Vegas could be coming to an end.

Superstar finish

However, with a playoff spot on the line throughout the last four weeks, Jacobs found himself. The first was a vintage performance at home against the Denver Broncos, where he had 27 carries for 129 yards. Running hard throughout the game, he earned his first 100-yard game since November 15th, 2020. After a touchdown in Week 17 against Indianapolis, Jacobs had his best game of the season against the Chargers in Week 18. In what was essentially a playoff game, Jacobs ran for a season-high 132 yards and a touchdown, helping the Raiders punch a ticket to the playoffs. Perhaps the biggest compliment given to Jacobs this season was the frustration displayed by fans when he only received thirteen carries in the playoff game. In that game, he ran hard for 83 yards.

After the rollercoaster that was 2021, Jacobs finished the season on the highest possible note. He finished the 2021 campaign with 217 carries for 872 yards and nine touchdowns. With 407 yards over his last four games, the Alabama product has ensured that he will be the starting running back going into the 2022 season. The bigger question now is whether the Raiders will give the young playmaker a contract extension in the near future.

*Top Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Giving JJ his 5th year is not a good use of funds. He had only 872 yards and averaged only 4 yds/carry. The Raiders can use his money more wisely on an established free agent o-lineman (maybe a right tackle). Lines make the running game, not backs. I just don’t see much difference between JJ and other running backs.

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