When the Raiders selected Josh Jacobs, Gruden cemented his running game. With that pick, the Raiders cast their lot with the former Alabama standout. As a result, the first half of Gruden’s second tenure begins to cement. After initially questioning the selections, many begin to see the plan in place.
“If you’re listening Josh,” Gruden said, “I encourage you to get some rest because we’re going to run you a lot. We’re going to give you a great opportunity certainly.”
If this true rings true, and by all intents and purposes, it is, Jacobs will see many touches. In Gruden’s mind, he prefers brutal running game that batters defenses. With the ultimate goal of breaking the will of opponents, Jacobs slides in as the lead running back. While many criticized the Raiders for choosing Jacobs, there’s an underlying genius to this move. During his three seasons in Tuscaloosa, Jacobs touches the ball less than 300 total times. In an era where college teams horse their running backs, Jacobs enjoyed extensive rest.
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“I’m not going to put any pressure on him. He’s got a lot to learn. But we do have a good offensive line, we’ve got an experienced quarterback in our system now and we’ve got a couple of receivers that if you want to double them, then perhaps this running back could do some damage.”
Above, Gruden makes the case for Jacobs and his role. To his credit, he is correct. If the passing game under Derek Carr begins to work, Jacobs will see daylight. Now, many moving parts exist within that statement. What tight end starts? Who plays left guard? When the Raiders solve those problems definitively, Jacobs must take the ball and perform how the team envisioned.
In reality, Josh Jacobs is the type of player that you root for. His backstory and path to the Raiders should elicit cheers. Yet, with the weight of expectations, a move to Las Vegas and the burden of proof, he must rise. Granted, May conjecture means little and speculation abounds in the summer. At the same time, Jacobs holds the key to a measure of the team’s success.