Raiders running backs Josh Jacobs Zamir White

Losing Josh Jacobs Is Tough, But There Are Silver Linings For The Silver And Black

It’s never easy losing a first-team All-Pro running back who loved being a member of the team, no matter how you slice it. Beyond his dominant play, Josh Jacobs served as a captain to the Las Vegas Raiders during both the ’22 and ’23 seasons. And, although he only appeared in 13 contests this past season, the now-former Raider once again showcased his ability to take the bulk of snaps as he totaled 233 carries.

There’s no other way to put it: Losing Josh Jacobs is a hard pill to swallow, regardless of the personal feelings some of Raider Nation may have towards him.

But that doesn’t mean the loss of Jacobs doesn’t come with silver linings.

One such silver lining is the $48 million contract Jacobs earned this summer, that the Raiders are not on the books for. Las Vegas continues with Zamir White in place of their former first-round pick while freeing up multi-millions in cap space to add talent elsewhere.

Another silver lining – the one that shines the brightest – is that the Silver and Black now get to see what their talented running backs stuffed deeper down on the depth chart can do.

The above sentiment is one that cannot be understated. Because, while losing Jacobs is certainly less than ideal, it presents a unique opportunity that may bear more fruit than the Raiders know what to do with.

Josh Jacobs’ departure: Silver linings for the Silver and Black

When you have a running back like Josh Jacobs, it’s hard not to give him a large bulk of the team’s carries. He’s a powerful runner with great cutting ability who only seems to get better as the game progresses. While everyone else on the field appears fatigued down the stretch, Jacobs only seems to run harder and perform better.

That’s why, despite playing in only 13 contests last season, Jacobs’ 233 carries ranked 11th-highest in the NFL. In fact, Jacobs hasn’t finished outside of the top-11 in carries since 2019. Twice he even finished top-3 via carries.

Jacobs is a rare breed of back who a coach can give the ball to all game with a smile. And that’s exactly what the Raiders have done since his arrival. However, the team can no longer do that moving forward.

But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing – the Las Vegas Raiders now get to see what they have in their young, talented running backs who never had a chance to beat out Jacobs for field time.

Who really knows what these talented young men can do? After all, not many of them have been able to see time on the field up to this point. That opportunity is there now, and the Raiders will benefit in a major way if one of their younger backs can take advantage.

Just as it happened in 2023

Former fourth-round pick Zamir White perfectly illustrates the point being made. When Jacobs was healthy, it was ‘The Josh Jacobs Show’ – and rightfully so. Jacobs goes down, and with no more Jacobs, the guys stuffed behind him get a chance to show what they can do. White steps in and not only proves to be an asset but does such an exceptional job in Jacobs’ absence that the team – and fans – feel comfortable with him replacing Jacobs moving forward.

All of this transpired solely because Josh Jacobs wasn’t on the field. Had the Alabama alum never missed time, White never has that opportunity, and the Raiders would’ve never found out what they have in their former Georgia running back.

Now, unused backs such as Brittain Brown and Sincere McCormick have a legitimate chance at earning a roster spot. Rookie Dylan Laube may be asked to carry the ball a number of times as well.

Taking advantage of Josh Jacobs being out of the picture

Brittain Brown was the Raiders’ final selection in the 2022 NFL Draft; the same draft that welcomed Zamir White. In 2022, Brown posted the fourth-most rushing yards (152) among all players to appear in any amount of preseason contests. His 4.5 yards per carry ranked fourth-highest among players with at least 20 preseason rushing attempts.

It’s possible Brown’s impressive ’22 preseason numbers were simply a result of facing less competition. But it’s also possible that Brown is another gem in the Raiders’ backfield. For comparison, White mustered up 86 yards on 26 carries during this past year’s preseason. Zamir’s yards per carry averaged out to 3.3; 1.2 less than Brown’s mark of 4.5 the year prior.

While it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, it’s at least promising that Brown performed at a higher level than the Raiders’ starting running back during their respective preseason campaigns.

McCormick and Laube rewrote the rushing record books at their school, with McCormick rushing for a league-high 1,479 yards in 2021 with 15 touchdowns on 298 carries. Laube led the entire nation in all-purpose yards per game (209.5) in 2023, totaling 749 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Las Vegas’ sixth-round pick is more of a threat through the air than on the ground at the next level, but he’s no stranger to making plays when given the ball on handoffs.

The three will still have to compete with Ameer Abdullah and Alexander Mattison, the latter who almost certainly will be called upon more than any. Nevertheless, that’s much different than competing with Josh Jacobs for snaps.

Perhaps another Zamir White story is right around the corner.

*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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