The Las Vegas Raiders‘ coaching staff took a bit of a hit recently when it was revealed that running backs coach Kirby Wilson retired. He had a lot of success developing Josh Jacobs into one of the NFL’s best young running backs. With training camp starting up for the team, they didn’t have time to do a big search for a new coach.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Raiders will have offensive quality control coach Tim Berbenich take over as the running backs coach for the time being. He won’t be manning the position himself but he’s the man in charge.
Based on Rapoport’s report, it doesn’t sound like Berbenich is the long-term answer at running backs coach. With the season nearing, it would be difficult to bring in a new face right now. With the team set to premiere a new duo at running back between Jacobs and offseason signee Kenyan Drake, Berbenich will have a very important job this season.
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Jacobs Named NFL’s 10th Best Running Back
Jacobs exploded onto the scene as a rookie in 2019 and was one of the best running backs in the NFL. He was arguably the Raiders’ most important offensive player that year. He took a bit of a step back in 2020 despite making the Pro Bowl. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, executives, coaches and players rated Jacobs as the 10th best running back in the NFL:
Meanwhile, Jacobs, despite a sluggish 3.9 yards per carry in Year 2, is a determined back, with 479 rushing yards after contact last year (sixth in the NFL). And Jacobs has 46 broken tackles since 2019, ranking no lower than eighth in either season.
One AFC exec said Jacobs is more decisive between the tackles than Taylor at this point, though Taylor is coming.
“Jacobs is a load,” the exec said. “Taylor is still learning, but he’ll be there soon.”
The 3.9 yards per carry from last season really hurt Jacobs in the rankings. The Raiders offensive line was rarely healthy in 2020 so that definitely factored in. With a revamped group of younger offensive lineman, Jacobs should be in for a stronger year.
Raiders Offense Could Be Elite in 2021
The Raiders have struggled to make the playoffs since Jon Gruden took over the team in 2018. That hasn’t necessarily been because of the offense. Derek Carr and company have done a good job scoring points, especially last season. The offense was 10th in the NFL in scoring in 2020 and could’ve been higher had the defense not been so bad.
The offense could be even better this upcoming season. Wide receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards should be more productive in Year 2. The running game will be better with the addition of Drake. The biggest question mark is the offensive line. Andre James is replacing Pro Bowler Rodney Hudson at center. If he’s not up to the task, that could stifle any potential growth for the offense.