Through 11 career NFL games for Josh Jacobs, it’s hard to argue that the rookie is one of the top running backs in the NFL. He’s been the focal point of the Oakland Raiders‘ offense and is one of the front-runners for Offensive Rookie of the Year. There was a lot of excitement for Jacobs coming out of Alabama, but not everybody expected much from him this season. Former NFL running Maurice Jones-Drew was among the doubters. He’s now taken to NFL.com to issue an apology to Jacobs:
My offseason analysis stated that Oakland would use the rookie running back mainly at the goal line and short-yardage situations. My apologies, young man. Jon Gruden is using Jacobs every which way he can, making him the focal point of the Raiders’ offense. The first-year back ranks fifth in rushing yards (957), tied for sixth in rush TDs (7) and has broken several franchise rookie records. Jacobs’ running ability is one of the reasons why Derek Carr is having a Pro Bowl-caliber year and the Raiders have a shot at the postseason. The Alabama product is definitely a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year but will need a strong final month to edge out Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
Jacobs has been a stud and though he had a down game in Week 12 against the New York Jets, there’s no denying he’s a top running back in the NFL. He should soon be the first Raiders rookie to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season.
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Raiders RB Coach Talks Josh Jacobs
One person who doesn’t get a lot of credit for Jacobs’ quick rise is Raiders running backs coach Kirby Wilson. He’s coached the likes of Adrian Peterson, Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson. Wilson recently spoke with Vic Tafur at The Athletic and gave a little insight on Jacobs.
“Nobody takes a beating like a running back in the National Football League,” Wilson said. “Josh has shown up every week and pretended to be Superman, and that’s a tribute to him and his personality and character. He has to be available. That’s the number one trait of a running back.”
Despite getting banged up at a couple points this season, Jacobs has been able to tough his way through it and has yet to miss a game. It also hasn’t affected his ability to break tackles as he’s accumulated the fifth-most yards after contact out of any running back in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.
“I think Josh has a great combination of vision and instincts and change of directions and lateral mobility,” Wilson said. “He has create-ability and can make people miss. He has the complete package and it’s nice watching this young man grow into an NFL runner.”
Jacobs is coming off his worst game of the season, but he has a favorable matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. He still has a chance to put up one of the best rushing yards totals for a season of any Raiders running back ever. He just needs 338 more to pass Napoleon Kaufman for the second spot. He won’t get to Marcus Allen’s 1,759 yard total from 1985, but could always do it in the future.