Save the trick plays for when the offense is fully in rhythm and the O-line is truly gelled. Till then, just feed Josh Jacobs. It’s easier said than done, obviously. However, if the Las Vegas Raiders want to escape Arrowhead Stadium with a win, they’ll stick to the basics. Chief among the basics is to keep riding the momentum produced by the run game in Week 4.
Just keep feeding Josh Jacobs if you’re the Las Vegas Raiders
The 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year runner-up is coming off one of his best individual performances of his career. Against the Denver Broncos, Jacobs accumulated 144 yards on the ground as he averaged 5.14 yards per carry. On top of that, Jacobs led the Raiders offense to two touchdowns thanks to his efforts. It should be noted, as well, that the Raiders’ O-line also had their best game of the year. With Andre James returning to anchor the group, the unit opened up holes and cleared running lanes for Jacobs all game long. As far as the running game is concerned, the gameplan was executed to near perfection.
The question now becomes whether head coach Josh McDaniels will stick to this formula or resort to a different approach. Each opponent on a team’s schedule presents a different challenge. In regard to the Kansas City Chiefs, the best defense will be an efficient offense, one that kills the clock and keeps Patrick Mahomes on the sidelines as much as possible. To do this, McDaniels should keep riding his hot hand.
Can the Chiefs shut down Jacobs?
While the Broncos boasted about having a potent defensive front, Jacobs made mincemeat of their run defense. Naturally, fans are wondering if he can do the same against the Chiefs. In terms of yards on the ground, the Chiefs are tops at the moment, having only surrendered 263 yards to opposing running backs. To make matters worse, those running backs only mustered a paltry 3.3 yards per carry, which is third in the NFL. On the other hand, the Chiefs’ pass defense is another story. Kansas City is currently giving up 5.7 yards per passing attempt (seventh in the NFL), in addition to 10 touchdowns through the air (30th). The Chiefs have been incredibly efficient in shutting down opposing rushing attacks, but can they maintain that pace when defending Jacobs?
Josh McDaniels recognizes what he has in No. 28
Perhaps, pounding the ball with Jacobs in order to open things up is the best way to go. McDaniels is fully cognizant of what Jacobs brings to the table. While speaking about Jacobs this week, McDaniels acknowledged that getting No. 28 going from the outset was a key point. “Getting him started, getting him going early in the game, I think was a big focus for us. I thought he carried that through to the end. … One of the unique things about Josh Jacobs is you’ve never seen him do this [tap helmet for substitution], and I think that’s a tribute to the kid and how much he loves football, how hard he competes on a play after play basis.”
As it stands at the time of this publishing, Jacobs is the fifth leading rusher in the league in terms of yards (336). Even more noteworthy is Jacobs’s growing role in the passing game which could also come into play against the Chiefs. The Raiders’ running back has been targeted 13 times just four weeks in. Making the most of those targets, Jacobs is averaging 22.5 yards a game via the air.
The Chiefs’ passing defense is vulnerable as identified by the numbers. If Hunter Renfrow returns, that’s four legitimate threats down the field along with Davante Adams, Mack Hollins, and Darren Waller. Taking into account the impressive outing by the Raiders’ O-line in Week 4, there’s ample opportunity for Las Vegas to get Jacobs going in this one. Whether it’s up the middle or with a pitch to the outside considering how thin the Chiefs’ defense could be spread.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/AJ Mast