After the Las Vegas Raiders denied the fifth-year option for starting star running back Josh Jacobs, No. 28 took the league by storm and is on pace to have a historic season. Who could have said that they saw this coming? Jacobs has taken a significant stride in his game (huge props to his offensive line too) and is turning heads across the league each week.
Currently, the Raiders’ star running back leads the league in rushingâ€”and by quite a large margin. As it sits now, he leads the league in rushing with 1,303 rushing yards on 242 attempts and has recorded 10 touchdowns. The next highest is Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb, who currently has 1,119 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns. To put that into perspective, Derrick Henry has only 1,078 rushing yards on 258 carries. With 16 fewer carries than “King Henry,” Jacobs has 225 more yards. But I will say the stat that clearly stands out to me is first-down runs… Jacobs leads the league with 72 as of this publication, and next is Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields with 57. The closest running back is Jamaal Williams, with 53.
Josh Jacobs has been pivotal in the Raiders’ overall success
He has arguably been the focal point of the Raiders’ offense and a major reason for their three-game winning streak. But does he actually have a chance at winning the league’s most prestigious honor, the Most Valuable Player award?
Throughout the history of the NFL, there have been a total of 57 NFL MVPs. However, only 16 of them played the running back position. The last one came in 2012 with Adrian Peterson. During the season in which Peterson won league MVP, he played in all 16 games and ran for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 40 receptions and one score. He beat out Peyton Manning that year, who had only thrown 37 passing touchdowns. The committee favored Peterson with 61 percent of the vote.
Before Peterson won the title, the last time a running back did it was in 2006, when LaDainian Tomlinson, whom Raiders fans know all too well, had 31 total touchdowns that season.
Running backs simply do not receive the MVP award
Although Jacobs is the league’s best running back this season and has had a career year, a running back winning the MVP is extremely rare, but it is possible. But this brings me back to 2020, when Henry had a fantastic season but did not receive a single MVP vote in comparison to Aaron Rodgers, who deservedly won it that year with 48 touchdown passes.
Looking at Jacob’s games this season, it is fair to say that without him, the Raiders may only have two to three wins. He has been so important to this football team and is playing the best football of his young career. But with only five games left in the season, Jacobs would need to average over 139.4 rushing yards every single game to hit that mark. Over the last three games, Jacobs is averaging 161 yards rushing. So, never say never. Even with his performances this year, it is possibleâ€”although it still brings me back to “King Henry” in 2020.
Josh Jacobs still has a hill to climb
In today’s NFL, the most prestigious award is most likely going to a quarterback, and that is a fact, unfortunately. But the progress Jacobs has made is truly remarkable. Personally speaking, I hope the Raiders’ new coaching staff declining his fifth-year option lit a fire under him because he has been a really good player for this organization from the day that he got here.
The next five games are so crucial, not only for the Raiders but also for Jacobs. He doesn’t have a contract for next season, and his future is up in the air, but he is playing at a very high level and deserves all the respect. Regardless, if the Raiders want to keep him next year, they will now have to cough up a good amount of money. You have to wonder if they’ll just take a flier on Zamir White to avoid such a large financial commitment to Jacobs. It’s crazy to ponder that, but what if a possible league MVP choice ends up as a free agent next offseason? For now, let’s see if Jacobs can keep up this frantic pace.
*Top Photo: Caean Couto/Associated Press