The Las Vegas Raiders’ season opener against divisional rivals, the Los Angeles Chargers, ended in disappointment. As most fans will recall, they came up just short, losing 24-19. Blame can be placed on many individuals, or certain position groups, or even the coaching scheme. One aspect that certainly stands out is the failure to keep the running game going.
The versatility of the team’s running backs was one of the most anticipated parts of the offense coming into this season. Unfortunately, that was not the end result on Sunday; let us rewind and examine the ground game.
Raiders RB Josh Jacobs needs more opportunities
Statistically speaking, Josh Jacobs didn’t have the best game on Sunday. He compiled just 57 yards on the ground. Credit is due to the Chargers’ powerful front seven. In the first half, Jacobs was largely contained, only hitting on a few short-yard gains. He even felt the full force of a Khalil Mack stop that cost Jacobs a yard.
Another key moment was when Jacobs slipped near the goal line in what would’ve resulted in a touchdown. Considering how the first half went, a touchdown there for the Raiders would’ve changed the flow of the game, taking some pressure off of quarterback Derek Carr. It also might’ve served to slow down the pace of the game. If the run game gets going with that score, maybe head coach Josh McDaniels sticks with Jacobs.
As for Jacobs’s teammate, Brandon Bolden, he didn’t fare much better on the ground. A former New England Patriot, he ended the game with just seven rushing yards for a combined total of 64 as a duo. Considering Josh McDaniels’ tendency to establish the run game, it was a rather odd game plan that many fans were puzzled by. As a side note, Bolden does deserve props for catching a touchdown from Carr. It showed that he can be an asset in the passing game, as expected when he came over to join his former offensive coordinator.
The rest of the Raiders’ stable of running backs was not used. Perhaps McDaniels is saving them for Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Up next, the Arizona Cardinals
With this in mind, anticipate a completely different rushing attack when the team hosts its official home opener against the Cardinals. While the Cardinals’ defense isn’t as powerful as the Chargers’, the Raiders’ running backs should be able to put up bigger numbers. A good rushing attack is critical to the team’s victory, so expect it to happen this weekend.
The Cardinals showed that their run defense wasn’t up to par yet against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Both of the Chiefs’ running backs gashed the Cards on the ground. Clyde Edwards-Helaire totaled 42 yards, but the numbers that stand out were his average yardage per carry (six yards) and his longest run of 18 yards. Isiah Pacheco also posted 62 rushing yards of his own. His averages were also noteworthy: 5.2 yards per carry and a 22-yard run. McDaniels needs to exploit this obvious advantage with Jacobs more than anyone else.
With that in mind, No. 28 should have a bounce-back performance, putting last week’s game in the rearview mirror.
Stay tuned to your favorite Raiders blog for moreÂ as we prep you for Week 2!
*Top Photo: Getty Images Pool