One of the things Raiders fans were looking forward to seeing the most in the team’s second preseason game was the debut of rookie running back Josh Jacobs. They didn’t have to wait long. The first three plays were runs by Jacobs in which he ran for 6 yards, 8 yards, and 6 yards. That’s some nice chunks of yards against a first team defense.
Last night’s first drive was a thing of beauty. pic.twitter.com/ENuinCxeFh— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) August 17, 2019
It didn’t appear as if he did anything spectacular, but that doesn’t mean he was just running through open space out there. He was running between the tackles and the fact that he hit the hole full speed and didn’t lose stride suggests he has one of the most important qualities a running back can have — vision.
“He’s a good back, there’s no doubt,” said Jon Gruden. “He can run the ball, he’s got good vision, he can break arm tackles, he’s got some acceleration and burst, no doubt. And I think he’s going to be a really good player.”
His quarterback has been looking forward to seeing what his new backfield mate can do as well. And he had a front row seat.
“Really good, right?” said Derek Carr of the rookie back. “I thought his vision... you know I’ve been able to hand the ball off to some pretty good running backs. I’ve played with some fun one – MJD (Maurice Jones-Drew, DMac (Darren McFadden), Latavius [Murray], Marshawn [Lynch], Doug [Martin] – and that’s just the guys that have carried a lot of footballs. I’ve played with some good backs and watching his vision was really impressive.
“I’ve got the best seat in the house. I’m sitting back there playing Madden, telling him to cut back and trying to run for him and he’s right up there with those guys and for him to do that, especially in his first game.
“I think the thing that rubbed off on me the most about Josh was his want-to. It wasn’t like ‘Man, this is my first game’ nothing like that. He was just trying to bully people, he was out there trying to run hard, he didn’t care that he was a rookie, he’s trying to prove that he’s the best back in the NFL. That’s his mindset and really, really impressed.”
In total, Jacobs carried the ball four times for 21 yards (5.1 yards per carry). It’s a small sample size, which is kind of the story of his college career. He can be electric in bursts because he’s never been a workhorse back in is always fresh.
What the Raiders see from him as far as his skillset is not all that surprising. He was the only back taken in the first round of this year’s draft for a reason. If he is to live up to the comparisons Carr is making, he will have to show he can carry the load and not wear down over a full game and a full season. But better to have the talent first. The durability they can work on.