Throughout much of his time both as a head coach and offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels has tended to operate with a running-back-by-committee approach. It is something that most teams do to some extent in today’s NFL, and most expected that to be the case with the Las Vegas Raiders coming into this season despite Josh Jacobs’ strong performance to end last year.
Many believed Kenyan Drake would re-assume his duties as a pass-catching back, and rookie Zamir White looked extremely promising as well. But unlike last season, where Drake and Peyton Barber had their share of carries as well, Jacobs has dominated work out of the Raiders backfield, with Drake being released before the season and veteran Brandon Bolden having just 15 touches so far this year.
And the Raiders head coach himself admitted that, for the most part, a backfield committee has been what he chose to do, but that simply isn’t the case this season.
“You’re right — in my history, we’ve used different backs, I would say, differently, and maybe had more of a rotation,” McDaniels said. “When we had Corey Dillon back in the early 2000s, that was a little different. We featured him a lot and gave him the ball a bunch. Sony, when he was a rookie, had [almost] 1,000 yards and was pretty productive. But by and large, I think that was something that we chose to do.”
Jacobs’ performance has been so good that it would be a crime for the Raiders to take him off the field. He is among the league leaders in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and yards per carry while also showing off his pass-catching ability by hauling in 20 receptions on 22 targets. Jacobs has been a man on a mission this season, and he has his eyes focused on a Raiders playoff run.
With what he has done to this point in the season, it is hard to believe that Jacobs’ name was being brought up in trade rumors ahead of the season. In fact, many wondered if the back suiting up in the Raiders’ preseason opener, when no other starters played, was a way to show him off to other teams. Now the idea of trading Jacobs is laughable, and McDaniels’ offense is centered primarily around one back for the first time in a long time.