In 2010, then-rookie Jacoby Ford burst onto the NFL scene as a playmaking wide receiver with a penchant for tough catches in traffic, and an electric return man capable of taking it the distance at any moment. Three times that year he turned kickoffs into Oakland Raider touchdowns, and he posted 470 receiving yards and two more scores despite not seeing a target in the passing game until week 7.
My, how things change.
Injury plagued the receiver for the two seasons that followed; but according to coaches and Ford himself, he is now fully healthy.
And entirely disappointing.
We can speculate that maybe there aren’t enough opportunities in the offense for him, (he has only been targeted 10 times in 7 games) but in order to earn more opportunities you have to do something with the ones that you get.
Ford has taken those 10 targets and turned them into 8 catches for a not-so-grand total of 52 yards. A measly 6.5 yards per reception won’t help a player’s case for a larger role in any offense. His struggles culminated in a frustrating performance this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which Jacoby fumbled the ball every time he touched it.
It’s difficult to diagnose the issue here: he could be less than 100% healthy, he could have permanent damage from injury that is hindering his performance, he could be struggling to get back in the swing of things mentally; I personally think that he appears to simply be trying to do too much.
Whatever the case may be, I feel as though the coaches have done their part to this point as far as putting him in a position to succeed. He has gotten opportunities in the return game, and they have designed plays on offense to get him the ball in space where he can put his quickness and blazing speed to use; he just hasn’t done it.
There is hope however, that he can get back on track. I think it’s important to remember that for the better part of the past two years he has been rehabbing injuries, and that it can take time to really get back to a prime football state physically, and mentally as well.
His game-changing potential will prevent the Raiders’ staff from putting him on the shelf just yet, but the well of opportunity is not endless in the National Football League. And Jacoby Ford can count on that well running dry if he can’t turn it around by year’s end.