Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs struggled to find any room to work with against the formidable Minnesota Vikings defense in Week 3 of the 2019 NFL season.
Head coach Jon Gruden made it clear when they took Jacobs with the 24th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft that they hoped to turn him into a bonafide workhorse. Despite his showing against the Vikings, he has shown plenty of promise early on of solidifying that notion through the first three games.
Although the Raiders have managed to get the ball in his hands 46 times already this season, only one of them has been for a reception. Gruden is looking to change that moving forward.
According to Jimmy Durkin of The Athletic, he admits he must focus on getting Jacobs more involved in the passing game:
“Yeah, we’re trying. We definitely want to get Josh to be a big part of the passing game, no doubt. We certainly do. We’d like to get more out of Jalen Richard, as well. All of our backs. We take a lot of pride in using our running backs in the passing game. You are right though, 100 percent, we’ve got to get more out of Josh as a receiver.”
Part of becoming a workhorse back is serving as a viable option in the passing game as both a receiver and a blocker. While the rookie has proven to be capable of carrying the workload in the run game, the onus is now on Gruden to utilize his skillset to its full extent.
This became evident during Oakland’s 34-14 loss to Minnesota on the road. The Vikings’ defense put an emphasis on bottling Jacobs up after limiting him to just 44 yards on 10 carries. His lack of involvement clearly had some ill effects on the offense as a whole as they struggled to get anything going on the ground or through the air.
Fortunately, Jacobs is no stranger to working out of the backfield after hauling in 48 receptions for 571 yards and five touchdowns during his career at Alabama. The time has now come for Gruden to find ways to get him out in the open, especially when the interior run game is not working.
Aside from Jacobs, running back Jalen Richard has also become known for his prowess as a receiver throughout his career. The fact that he was included in Gruden’s comments indicates that he could see some more opportunities in the passing game as well.
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