It was quite the year for running back Jalen Richard both on and off the field. In addition to a break out season with the Raiders, he also become a father of a baby girl. Let’s not forget there were rumblings in the preseason that Richard or DeAndre Washington could be cut.
In a season that was full of disappointments, Jalen Richard was not one of them. Statistically, he had a career year.
68 receptions (81 targets)
As you can see Richard was used primarily as an option in the passing game or when playing from behind. His 68 receptions was tied for the team lead (J. Cook). He also ranked seventh in the league among players at his position.
Richard, a 2016 undrafted free agent, has developed into one of the league’s best pass catching running backs.
How did Carr not fumble this ball? Miller nearly gives up a fourth sack. Richard for 32 yards. pic.twitter.com/mPMXHwwOEu— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) October 8, 2018
He received high praise from his head coach during the season.
“Jalen Richard might be the MVP of our team,” Gruden said. “He’s a mean guy, tough guy when the game starts. He is always hard to tackle.”
Richard’s role in this offense is no longer in question going forward. Gruden, definitely sees Richard as a big part of his long-term plans for the Raiders.
“He is a Charlie Garner type back,” Gruden said. “He’s a guy that someday I think could run for 1,000 yards and catch 1,000 yards worth of passes. He’s a guy we can line up in the slot, we can line him up out wide.”
Looking ahead to the 2019 season, there is some uncertainty surrounding the running back position. Jon Gruden said earlier this week that he would welcome Marshawn Lynch back. Doug Martin was serviceable as a back up, Richard’s spot on the roster appears to be safe.
More backs are needed because Richard has not shown the ability to be the complete back that his coach believes he can be. While he has great hands and quickness, he often times doesn’t have the best vision. As this play late in the season against the Bengals showed.
Jalen wyd pic.twitter.com/aM0woL0ca8— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) December 19, 2018
Pass protection can also be an issue. Being undersized will make picking up oncoming blitzers a difficult task. Richard will need to improve his strength and technique.
When you are in 3rd and long and down 14 this is what you are faced with. Richard is destroyed by Derwin James. pic.twitter.com/6QNho5e0H3— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) November 13, 2018
Richard has found his niche in Gruden’s offense. He has a weapon out of the backfield and dependable check down and screen play option for Derek Carr.