With Marshawn Lynch suspended this week for the Buffalo Bills, Jalen Richard got a chance to start for the Oakland Raiders. There was a lot of talk coming in about what he could possibly do in Lynch’s absence. And he had his share of people that believed he should be the starter or bell-cow back of the Raiders.
They were fooled by the 5.9-yard per carry average last year and 4.5 average so far this year. They don’t see just how uneven his yards per carry is. It’s either a big run on a play that he gets a huge hole on or he can’t he out of his own backfield. Those huge holes usually come as a result of the defense not expecting him on a running play. With that huge hole, Richard makes guys miss in space and has the speed to make big plays.
The problem is he doesn’t see the small hole, make guys miss in close quarters or break tackles. And you can forget about him driving forward for yards after contact. Richard’s five carries for 21 yards against the Bills is a good example of who he is. The 4.2 yards per carry isn’t bad but 14 of those yards on one run with a huge hole when the Bills didn’t expect him.
Bell-cows get their yards when everyone in the stadium knows who’s getting the ball and find a way to get three yards when there’s nothing there to keep the offense on schedule. They also stay on the field to get the ball on 3rd-and-1 and 3rd-and-1. And when it’s hard to throw with inclement weather, you can lean on them.
Richard doesn’t even see the field on 3rd-and-short and isn’t so effective in inclement weather. He catches the ball well but isn’t so good in pass protection. So it’s easy to see that he is simply a complimentary RB, not a bell-cow.
DeAndre Washington is closer to bell-cow back material than Richard but he isn’t either. He has the same open field skills but he’s better at making guys miss in a phone booth and much tougher to bring down than Richard.
If the Raiders are to make a playoff run, they need to use Marshawn Lynch when he gets back. That way, opposing teams have to worry about more than quarterback Derek Carr and the passing game.