Raiders Jakob Johnson

Ground And Pound: Tight Ends And Fullbacks Deserve Love Too

The Las Vegas Raiders have won two of their last three games. Their rushing attack, which has been led by Josh Jacobs and gained 531 yards over that span, has been a major factor in this. Although Jacobs and the offensive line deserve credit, head coach Josh McDaniels recently expanded on that. In particular, he gave praise to other elements of the offense, such as Jakob Johnson and the tight ends.

Raiders TEs do more than just catch the ball

When the media questioned McDaniels about Jakob Johnson’s role in the offense this week, he first addressed the tight ends before directly responding. “You can throw in Foster [Moreau] and Jesper [Horsted], because Jesper played some yesterday and Foster did a really good job in there,” McDaniels said.

Since run blocking has always been one of Moreau’s strong suits, his return was enthusiastically received. Horstead was substituted in because Darren Waller was out due to injury for a few plays. As the Raiders’ best run-blocking tight end, Moreau played 96 percent of the snaps against the Texans, which is encouraging for their running game.

Tight ends are often overlooked for their ability to run block. Look at George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers to see how important tight ends are for the offense’s ability to successfully run the ball. Moreau must continue to play despite whenever Waller returns because he is a much better blocker. Do not be shocked if we see more two-tight end sets featuring both of those players going forward.

Jakob Johnson: showing us why fullbacks matter

Jakob Johnson isn’t a player that flashes you with his speed or catching ability, but he does what he is asked for and does it well. McDaniels said that he knows he can rely on him. “Look, the fullback by nature—we don’t have Kyle Juszczyk, and Jak [Jakob Johnson] is the first one to tell you that. He and Kyle aren’t necessarily the same type of player. But Jak has his strength and he knows who he is. He’s a good blocker, he’s an incredible teammate, he’s an unselfish guy, and he’s a physical player. So, he adds that element of physicality to our group. He knows what his role is, and he goes in there and he does it as well as he can, and he usually does it well,” McDaniels told the media.

There are many layers to this, but McDaniels is correct. In the run game, Johnson has evolved into Jacobs’ personal bodyguard. Negative yards are uncommon when Johnson is leading the block. Johnson is particularly adept at his role because of his physicality and strength. He will always get a block; he will either dive for it or run someone over. Your linemen will work harder if they see a fullback taking down defenders.

Johnson merits the role he has earned with the Raiders. You should have a fullback on your roster because of players like him. He, Jacobs, the tight ends, and the offensive line helped the Raiders discover their true identity: ground and pound. The Raiders will keep running out of the I-formation with Johnson and Moreau until opponents start treating the run game with the respect it merits. Continue running the rock even after that.

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*Top Photo: Official Raiders YouTube Channel

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