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How RB Josh Jacobs, old school football transformed the Raiders attack


Las Vegas raid Attack coordinator Mick Lombardi says rerun Josh Jacobs is one of his favorite players because of the way he runs football non-stop.

“He was old school and wanted to take the ball downhill,” said Lombardi. “And he wants the ball.”

Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels was full of praise for Jacobs, calling him a “footballer”.

“He’s as tough as they come,” McDaniels said of Jacobs. “He took a lot of hits and kept coming. He played his best in the second half, almost every week. I’m running out of words, but when you describe someone as a ‘football player’, That’s him.”

Going through a three-game winning streak heading into their Thursday night game at Rams, the Raiders turned their season around and returned to the knockout chat with a score of 5-7. One of the driving forces behind that effort was a return to the fitness run led by Jacobs.

The Alabama product leads the league in dash yards (1,303) and scripted yards (1,634) this season and comes in third with 10 hasty touchdowns. Jacobs is on track to break the franchise record for dash yards set by his mentor, Marcus Allen, who ran 1,759 yards in his league MVP season in 1985.

Jacobs was at the top of his team’s three-game winning streak, averaging 160 yards a game. Overall, Jacobs has hit more than 100 yards six times this season. Five of them were wins for Las Vegas.

So how did the Raiders keep dropping Jacobs for the big profit? They lean towards the traditional formation, using full-backs Jacob Johnson and use sets of two backs, one end tight to play bully balls in the front. This season, the Raiders have used tight two-sided, one-sided innings (21 men) in their 148 attacks, or 20% of the time.

In the past three games, the Raiders have made 45 tackles from 318 yards and five touchdowns with two-backs, a tight first half.

In the first game of a three-match winning streak, an overtime victory in Denver, Raiders has a total of 15 runs in 64 yards with 21 personnel. Next week, a win in extra time first Eagle, the Raiders had 11 164-yard hits and 3 touchdowns, including the game winner, the 86-yard touchdown by Jacobs. Last week in the previous home win ChargerThe Raiders have 15 runs for 90 yards and one touchdown with 21 men.

According to Next Gen Stats, Jacobs leads the NFL in yards after exposure to 1,064. That means attackers, receivers and full-backs are doing an excellent job of blocking at the point of contact. Jacobs also has a league-high 799 javelin in between tackles, showing his elite ability as an inside runner.

Using a full-back like Johnson to clear the way was key to Jacobs’ success. According to the Next Generation Index, the Raiders averaged 5.8 yards per take, and 15.1 percent of Jacobs’ runs achieved at least 10 yards with Johnson in the game. Without Johnson, Jacobs averaged 4.9 yards per take and 12.9% of his runs hit at least 10 yards.

“The more we do our job right, the more opportunities we create for those players to do what they are fortunate to do,” Johnson said. “I can’t zu-zu like that, but if I can open the hole for Josh, we’re on the right track.”

Case in point: Jacobs’ long touch to score in extra time against Seattle, when he was mostly unaffected.

Jacobs said of the play: “We felt like a lot of the runs were over, but we just had to put in a little more effort and pay attention to the details. “We told everyone at the end of the first quarter, one of these was going to explode. It just happened to be the biggest game of the game.”

Center added André James: “He makes our job easier with the way he runs the ball. He runs it with great passion, so it’s nice to stop someone like that.”

Jacobs’ ability to act as an attack engine also creates more opportunities for the receiver Davante Adams and pass game. Adams has scored at least 125 yards of receiving the ball and has scored in four of the past five games for Las Vegas.

And Adams also helped Jacobs. According to Pro Football Focus, the Raiders have faced the most Cover 2 defenses this season, which means fewer defenders in the box for Jacobs and offense in Las Vegas as the Raiders run the ball.

Las Vegas selected Jacobs No. 19 overall in the 2019 draft, but the Raiders rejected his fifth-year pick, meaning he will be an unrestricted free agent next season. Las Vegas could adopt the franchise tag this season or look for an extension to keep the 24-year-old with the team long-term.

The Raiders have completed long-term deals with a number of attacking players, including Adams, the midfielder Derek Carrtight ending Darren Waller and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. With the season he’s preparing for, Jacobs looks set to be next, but he’s more focused on ending the year strong.

“Still having to stay in high form,” Jacobs told the Las Vegas Review Journal when asked about the status of his contract. “They only miss you for your last time [game]. We’ll see what happens next.”

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Eric D. Williams has covered the NFL for over a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.


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