The bread and butter of the Las Vegas Raiders during the 2020 season has been their rushing attack. Josh Jacobs has established himself as one of the NFL’s best running backs as he is elusive in space and able to churn for extra yardage behind the Raiders’ stout offensive line.
However, the ground game has gotten away from Las Vegas in recent weeks, with things coming to a head in Week 12 where they were embarrassed by the Atlanta Falcons, 43-6. Derek Carr played his worst game of the season but also received little help from Jacobs and Devontae Booker with the duo only managing 33 yards on a combined 12 carries.
Carr’s turnovers put the Raiders in an early hole, and Jon Gruden seemed to abandon the run in hopes of catching up. Ahead of their Week 13 matchup with the New York Jets, Gruden admitted that he and the coaching staff need to go back and reinforce their run-first identity via Kyle Martin of Raiders:
“We got stuffed on fourth-and-1 and we got to do a better job as a coaching staff obviously and we got to continue to emphasize it,” Gruden said. “We’re good at it, I think people respect that we’re pretty good at it. We’re getting a lot of great looks from defenses to stop the run, but we got to be better helping our players and we got to get some of our guys out of the training room out there to help us too.”
Some of the blame can be attributed to the lack of continuity along the offensive line as players like Trent Brown and Kolton Miller have missed time with injuries, but Gruden’s playcalling deserves some criticism as well. However, the lack of rushing attempts against Atlanta could also be chalked up to Jacobs’s health as he was forced to miss time during the game after suffering an ankle injury.
Unfortunately, Jacobs has been ruled out for the game against the Jets, so Devontae Booker will be the team’s starter. Despite Jacobs’s availability, Gruden would be wise to force-feed his running backs against the winless Jets to ease the burden on Carr and the rest of the offense.