Some may not want to hear this, but after the loss to the Titans it’s time to begin looking into the 2020 season and beyond. Yes, mathematically the Raiders have not been officially eliminated from the playoffs, but pending a miracle the postseason will have to wait at least another year.
When you look back on the first 13 games of the season, there is plenty to be excited about going forward. The rebuild that began last year is well underway, and while it’s still far from a finished product, there are some pieces in place that will be a big part of the future for years to come.
Look no further than Josh Jacobs. When the season wraps up on December 29th and you’ve had time to reflect on the season that was 2019, just know one thing: The Raiders found a stud in Jacobs.
In only 12 games, Jacobs has amassed 1,061 rushing yards (4.9 Y/A) and seven touchdowns. He became the first rookie ever to don the Silver and Black to reach the milestone. He has demonstrated everything you look for in a premier back. Of all his high-end characteristics, the one that stands above them all has been toughness.
Since suffering a fractured shoulder in Week 7, Jacobs has played through the pain without seeing a dip in his play. He has become a staple on the weekly injury reports and again each week, answers the bell.
We now know the severity of the injury Jacobs has been dealing with when he posted a picture in a sling sharing to the world he has a fractured shoulder.
Josh Jacobs is as tough as they come, battling through a shoulder injury while maintaining high-level production. From his Instagram stories pic.twitter.com/XVOheg2jxi— Scott Bair (@BairNBCS) December 3, 2019
Sometimes though, the best thing you can do is protect a player from himself. Last week against the Titans might have been one of those cases.
The question now is, should Jacobs be shutdown for the season?
A case can be made for both sides of the argument, but let’s start with this. Jacobs has nothing left to prove this year. He has eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark, he has shown to coaches, teammates, and the fans his love for the game playing through the injury. With the playoffs highly unlikely, the team is playing for pride only at this point.
Why risk further injury for the sake of pride?
When you have an asset as valuable as Jacobs you protect it for the long term. Take into consideration that in his three years at Alabama Jacobs carried the ball only 251 times. Already this season he has 218 totes.
Jon Gruden was asked about the possibility of having Jacobs take the rest of the year off:
“Yeah, we’re going to try to win this game,” said Gruden. “We’re never going to put a guy out there that can’t play. But we’re going into the last home game in the history of the Oakland Raiders, it’s an emotional time. We’re going to try and win the game. We’re not eliminated from the playoffs and we’re going to try win every time we strap it on.”
Sure, that is the politically correct answer, but Gruden is no dummy. He knows Jacobs is going to be the centerpiece of his offense for years to come. Another indication that Jacobs might be out longer, if not for the year, is the fact that free agent running back Rod Smith was signed on Tuesday.
The careers of NFL running backs are among the shortest of any position in the league. When you have one as talented as Jacobs, you’d be wise to ensure he is around and productive for as long as possible.