After having a lackluster running game in 2021, the Las Vegas Raiders should improve greatly in that area under new head coach Josh McDaniels. The Raiders were 28th in rushing yards last season while the New England Patriots ranked eighth under McDaniels. It wasn’t due to a lack of talent. Josh Jacobs is a former first-round pick and made the Pro Bowl in 2020 while Kenyan Drake was supposed to be a great No. 2 before getting hurt.
Jacobs picked things up towards the end of the year and was a big reason the Raiders fought their way to the playoffs. However, he wasn’t productive for most of the season and suffered injuries throughout. The Raiders have to decide if they’re going to pick up his fifth-year option worth $10.1 million this offseason. At the NFL Scouting Combine, McDaniels was asked about the running back’s contract and gave some insight.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to coach this guy,” McDaniels said, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “It’s funny, because when you do all the work you do on all the players in the draft, and then you only get to have five or six of them on your team, the work that you put in on all the other guys is not all lost when you have an opportunity like this.
“You come to a new organization with a handful of those guys that you have done work on and really been fond of as you go through that process before, and Josh would be one of those guys. He runs hard, he can play on all three downs, he can do things out of the backfield. He certainly impacted this team in a lot of positive ways.”
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Sure Sounds Like Jacobs Will Get 5th-Year Option Picked Up
While McDaniels avoided directly addressing Jacobs’ contract situation, there’s no reason to believe he won’t pick up the option. It sounds like he’s been a big fan of the running back since his college days. The coach knows how important it is to have a strong group of running back as the Patriots have always relied heavily on a balanced run game.
It appears that McDaniels is a fan of the fact that Jacobs is a three-down running back. The relationship between the two could turn out to be quite fruitful. The Raiders might be apprehensive to pay a running back with an injury history $10+ million a year but that could be a discount for Jacobs if he takes a big leap under McDaniels.
McDaniels Believes Jacobs Has Ball Security Issues
McDaniels had a lot of praise for Jacobs but he wasn’t afraid to point out his flaws. He believes that the running back has some ball security issues that need to be worked out.
“We are going to work on his ball security,” McDaniels said with a smile. “We’ve already had that conversation. It hangs loose a little bit. … But I am excited about this. He is a good player, and we’re looking forward to working together.”
Jacobs only has five fumbles over his three seasons in the NFL, which isn’t bad at all. Derrick Henry has nine in that same span. Perhaps McDaniels thinks Jacobs is tempting fate a little too much but there shouldn’t be much of a concern with his ball security going forward.