Can Josh Jacobs cure the Raiders running game?

NFL News, Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders finally have first-round running back Josh Jacobs under contract. What kind of impact will he have in his rookie campaign?

Sometimes you have to take a little closer look at the numbers. In each of the past two seasons, the Oakland Raiders have finished 25th in the NFL in rushing yardage. Truth be told, the club actually ran for more yards in 2018 (1,628) than the previous year (1,554). But the Silver and Black did average less than 25 running plays per contests for the second consecutive season.

Go back to 2016, the Raiders’ last playoff appearance. The club finished 12-4 and only five teams in the league gained more yards per game on the ground. That balanced attack rolled up 46 offensive touchdowns, 17 rushing, and Oakland averaged 26.0 points per game.

So head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock were obviously looking for a running back who could carry a big load and also get the tough yards. Enter former University of Alabama standout Josh Jacobs, a 5’11”, 219-pound talent who could emerge as a real workhorse for the club. On Tuesday, the second of the Raiders’ three first-round selections inked a four-year deal with a fifth-year option. When it comes to this team, rookies report to training camp on July 23 and the veterans three days later.

So what says the former member of the Crimson Tide can be the main threat out of the backfield? He was one of a slew of runners for Nick Saban’s team in recent seasons. In three years and 40 games with the team, he totaled a combined 299 yards from scrimmage, good for 2,062                and 21 scores. But look at 2018 and the workload increased. Nearly half of his touches (140) and yards (887) came this past season, to go along with 14 of the aforementioned 21 touchdowns.

This offseason, the Raiders added free-agent Isaiah Crowell but he was lost for the year with a torn Achilles’ tendon. The team then decided to bring back veteran Doug Martin and Gruden still has Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. But don’t be shocked if Jacobs and his fresh legs not only rings up substantial numbers for a team in dire need of some offensive balance, he could wind up very much in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year discussion.

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