If the Las Vegas Raiders are going to pull off an upset Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, who have won eight straight games, they will need a bounce back game for star running back Josh Jacobs as they turn to Jarrett Stidham at quarterback.
Jacobs, who is leading the NFL with 1,539 rushing yards, had just 44 yards on 15 carries in the Raiders’ Week 16 13-10 loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was his second lowest yardage total of the season.
Jacobs will have to rebound, though, against the best run defense in the NFL. The 49ers are allowing a league-low 3.3 yards per carry this season and haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. Las Vegas coach Josh McDaniels said this week he thought Pittsburgh did an excellent job in containing Jacobs on Saturday night.
“I give them credit. They were kind of – in a nutshell, we would put one group out there, and then they would put a group out there with one more big guy than what we had,” McDaniels said this week. “I don’t want to get into the specifics of it, but there were times where they were out there with three defensive backs and a 4-4 front against our personnel grouping, and it made it very difficult to just keep slamming runs in there because you’re either going to ask Mack Hollins to block a linebacker, which is just not good football in that regard. So, part of their plan, like I said, they did a decent job of trying to discourage that as much as they could. We felt like we made some adjustments that helped us as the game went on.
“But we didn’t have the ball much in the second half, and that’s our fault. We kind of created a negative play and then it was third and long, and then a penalty. We had a third and 25, so, I mean, those situations are our responsibility. When you can’t play the game first and 10, second and five, third and two, first and 10, second and four, it’s hard to find any rhythm quite honestly. And I would say in the second half we didn’t do a very good job offensively of establishing any rhythm. We were behind the sticks too much. We didn’t make enough positive plays. We hurt ourselves with negative plays and penalties. And for that reason, he didn’t get the touches that we certainly want to give him. I love the guy. He should have the ball more than any other player in our team, and he has. And so, I love his passion, his fight. He wants he wants to help us win in any way that he can, and we got to do a better job of being productive so we can stay out of those situations where the running game becomes difficult to stick with.”
After the loss, an emotional Jacobs voiced his frustration that the Raiders went away from the ground game in the game as they saw another lead turn into a defeat. Jacobs wasn’t the first player to question the offensive play calling and McDaniels said he understood his players’ frustrations and has no hard feelings.
“No. Look, our guys want to win. There’s been a handful of guys that have done that. It’s an emotional sport. It’s an emotional game,” McDaniels said. “Hell, I wasn’t real excited after the game either, and so I think the reality is you’re allowed to be frustrated. I think you handled it in the right way, and you do things the right way. And JJ expressed his feelings, and it is what it is, you’re going to have that at times. But I’ve said this a number of times, I love the guy and I think he stands for the right things, and he wants to help us win, and he should, and he has. So, look, there’s a lot of things that that are going to, I’d say, be evaluated here as we go forward and try to make decisions that are in the best interest of our team and our organization, and like we’ve talked about a number of times this year, we got to try to create something that’s sustainable so that we’re not sitting here having this conversation next year and beyond.”
Expect McDaniels to try to commit to get Jacobs going on the ground this week in an attempt kickstart the offense.