Despite having easily the most impressive season of any rookie in 2019, Josh Jacobs ended up losing the Offensive Rookie of the Year to Kyler Murray. The Las Vegas Raiders running back doesn’t come off as a particularly vain person so it probably wasn’t that big of a blow to his ego that he didn’t win. However, head coach Jon Gruden touted Jacobs as the favorite to win the award all season and apparently he’s none too happy about him losing.
According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, Gruden is on a mission to prove all the people who voted against Jacobs wrong:
Here’s the story. I heard that Gruden was so mad last year that Jacobs didn’t win offensive rookie of the year (the third-best rookie, Kyler Murray, did because he is a quarterback) that he vowed that Jacobs would get more carries and more receptions to prove what a crime the voters had committed.
Down the stretch, Jacobs played with a fractured shoulder until the team pulled the plug after 13 games, and he showed great hands at Alabama and at last year’s training camp, so he will be the bell cow, with Richard the backup and Bowden being worked in slowly.
Jacobs was already the centerpiece of the Raiders’ offense last year but it looks like his role could expand even more.
Raiders OC Reveals What They’ve Had Jacobs Work On
Jacobs only played 13 games last season and was among the top rushers in the NFL. However, running backs are expected to do a lot more than just run the ball these days and he didn’t do a whole lot of receiving last year. That was a strange development as Jacobs was lauded for his receiving ability coming out of college.
This year, expect Jacobs to be much more involved in the passing game. Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson revealed what they’d like to see from him this season.
“We want you to become a complete running back, we need you to get better at route running out of the backfield, as well as route running from an extended formation,” Olson said of Jacobs on a conference call Tuesday. “So, that was the homework assignment in the offseason. We haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but that was probably the biggest area we were looking for improvement, and he can always get better in protection. That’s a big part as well. I think it’s difficult for a rookie to come in and master protection in one season, so we expected an improvement in that area as well.”
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What This Means for Raiders Offense
Expect the Raiders offense to run through Jacobs this season. Yes, Henry Ruggs and Darren Waller will get a lot plays drawn up for them this year but Gruden loves to run the ball. He also has a point to prove this year so Jacobs is probably going to be used at a high rate.
The Raiders aren’t going to be a pass-happy team like a lot of other NFL offenses. Gruden’s going to expect Jacobs to set the tone for the offense and build the passing game around that. Fortunately, there aren’t many running backs who are better suited for the task.