Greg Knapp has an embarrassment of riches in coordinating the offense for the Oakland Raiders. Part of his challenge in 2012 will be getting more out of Taiwan Jones than the Raiders did in 2011.
As a rookie Jones burst onto the scene with an impressive preseason showing against the New Orleans Saints. Of course there is a reason why preseason stats don’t count. Jones struggled to find a meaningful role in his first NFL regular season.
He was pretty much a non-factor on special teams averaging just 20 yards a return. Despite Darren McFadden’s absence and the increased workload for Michael Bush the speedy Bay Area native managed just 16 rushing attempts.
Many will cite Jones’ inability to help in pass protection combined with some injury issues as the biggest reasons why he wasn’t more involved in 2011. The lockout did him no favors too.
Fact of the matter is Jones showed he’s more than just another Al Davis stopwatch selection. Many consider Taiwan the fastest man in silver and black but his ability to make cuts at full speed combined with a hardnosed running style makes him more than just a change of pace back. This guy can be a real weapon when used in creative ways.
Obviously Jones has much more room for growth. He’ll have to prove that to a regime that’s already brought in another runner in Mike Goodson to help replace the lost production of Bush. None the less it is hard to imagine the Raiders not figuring out some way to get much more out of Jones. It’s about time we saw more of Taiwan. He might not be a workhorse running back but he’s a weapon that can make life much easier on Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden.