Raiders running back Josh Jacobs

Consistency In Practice Has Led To A Resurgent Run Game

The Las Vegas Raiders’ run game has helped give an identity to Josh McDaniels’ offense five games in. So, what has led to that success? Well, offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi gave his thoughts today while speaking to the press.

Practice has been key for the Las Vegas Raiders

“I think consistency in practice is a big part of it,” said Lombardi with regard to what’s changed in the last couple of weeks. Josh Jacobs showed right out of the gate in Week 1 that he was healthy and ready to carry the load for the Raiders. Unfortunately, McDaniels had to abandon the run game due to the Raiders’ falling behind. That was something that Lombardi pointed out as well. “Obviously, we had some things happen in the first couple weeks in terms of [falling] behind in some games. We kind of had to get back in some games by throwing the football.”

McDaniels came under fire earlier in the season when fans questioned why Jacobs wasn’t getting the ball down the stretch, helping to put the game away, etc. It’s hard to do that when you’re behind in the box score. Be that as it may, there’s been a shift and the numbers don’t lie. They point to Jacobs seeing more responsibility the past few games. The fact is, precision requires practice, and lots of it. As Lombardi alluded to, this Raiders team has improved, and it’s showing in practice. The offense is zeroed in and making the most of it. “I think these guys consistently perform well in practice on Wednesdays and Thursdays in pads and really focus on their assignments and stuff like that,” said Lombardi.

If the offensive line, timing, and execution have now been fine-tuned, the run game will flourish. Yes, a lot of it is Jacobs’s individual efforts, but having his O-line open up holes consistently (especially since Andre James’s return) is going to do wonders. Speaking of the O-line…

Is the O-line coming together for Mick Lombardi?

The consistent rotation of the Raiders’ offensive line by McDaniels and Lombardi has irked Raider Nation. Some like to point out that constantly shifting linemen is keeping the unit from gelling. However, the argument could be made that they’ve made strides, especially in terms of run blocking. “Whatever five guys we feel give us the most consistent part of practice in the game, those are the guys that are going to play. Each week is a new week, but we feel pretty strongly about the guys that are playing right now in terms of the five or six guys we had rotating there on the offensive line,” said Lombardi when asked about the O-line getting solidified.

It sounds like fans need to get used to seeing a rotation. It will probably consist of up to six linemen being used every game. Additionally, you’ll likely continue seeing some linemen switch positions in-game. Regardless of how you feel about this, it’s working. Making strides in practice and getting the O-line combination has led to the run game having a resurgence. More and more, McDaniels is leaning on No. 28 to carry the offense. Jacobs has totaled 49 carries in the last two games, a far cry from just 10 rushing attempts in Week 1. In addition, if you want further proof that the Las Vegas Raiders’ run-blocking is on a hot streak, look to one number. We’re referring to 6.1, which is how many yards per carry Jacobs is averaging in the last two contests.

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*Top Photo: AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

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