Josh Jacobs will finally get the rushing yard crown in 2021
By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)
Josh Jacobs is still somewhat under the radar, but the running back for the Las Vegas Raiders has quickly become one of the best in the NFL. Now entering his third season in the league, he is just now hitting his prime years for the position. He was excellent in each of his first two campaigns, but there is good reason to believe that he will improve even further this upcoming season.
Jacobs is a big and powerful back at 5’10 and 220 pounds. He fits the mold of Alabama running backs in the NFL, joining veterans Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram, as well as rookie Najee Harris. The Crimson Tide backs run with violent intentions by embracing contact, but also have the burst of speed to break away in the open field. Like the rest of this group, Jacobs is a workhorse who is willing and able to carry a very heavy load.
It’s fair to expect a huge year from Jacobs, and it just might be time for him to break through and win the rushing title. Before looking ahead to this coming season, let’s first look back at his previous two. He has not only been a highly productive rusher but extremely consistent as well.
2019 Season Recap
After being selected late in the first round of the NFL Draft, Jacobs put together a solid rookie season with the Raiders. He accumulated 242 carries for 1150 yards, which works out to 4.8 yards per carry, and 7 touchdowns. In all four of those statistical categories, he ranked in the top 15 in the NFL. Maybe most importantly, he ranked third overall in rushing yards per game with 88.5, behind only Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb.
2020 Season Recap
After a successful rookie campaign in which Jacobs was one of the top running backs in the league, he followed it up with a similarly productive second season and even increased his output in some statistical categories. He ranked third in the league in carries with 273, eighth in yards with 1065, fourth in touchdowns with 12, and tenth in yards per game with 71.
Raiders Team Trends
Since they drafted Jacobs, the Raiders are in the top ten in the NFL in rushing attempts per game over the last two seasons combined. Philosophically, they are an offense that wants to commit the rushing game and then work off of the play-action from there. This just means that there will be plenty of opportunities for Jacobs to carry the ball.
It’s also important to point out that he is a true feature back and there is nobody on their current roster to really challenge him for carries. He has already accounted for nearly 60 percent of the carries and rushing yards since joining the team, and it is realistic to believe that percentage could go even higher.
2021 Season Outlook
The commitment that the Raiders have shown to the rushing game, as well as the confidence they have displayed in Jacobs, give a good reason to believe that he will get another heavy load this season. Pair that with the fact that he has already demonstrated great talent and could very well improve even further this year, and his expectations are soaring high.
Something important that the Raiders did this offseason that could potentially help the production of Jacobs is attempting to improve the offensive line. They did so by bringing in five rookies, including using their 17th overall pick in the NFL Draft on Alex Leatherwood, a tackle from Alabama. It’s a young unit, and one that is being rebuilt, but it could be better than it was a year ago when it all comes together.
In conclusion, Jacobs has been one of the best running backs in the NFL since joining the Raiders two years ago. His solid and steady production and improvement, paired with the organizational commitment to his abilities, indicate that he could be due for a real breakout year. It will take a monster season to dethrone Derrick Henry, but don’t be at all surprised if Jacobs wins the rushing title this season. It’s time for him to come out from under the radar and into the spotlight.