The Las Vegas Raiders nearly pulled off a victory in Week 1 despite a plethora of turnovers and errors. However, one of those mistakes might’ve been self-inflicted. Head coach Josh McDaniels appeared to have abandoned the run game, which was surprising given his previous offensive tendencies as the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots.
There’s no doubt that this imbalance on offense contributed to the Los Angeles Chargers’ emerging victorious.
If you’re Derek Carr, it’s easy to forget you have Josh Jacobs in the backfield when you have Davante Adams now lined up at wideout. However, the play design belongs to McDaniels, so this isn’t something Raiders fans can blame on the signal-caller.
People were shocked to see Jacobs play in the Hall of Fame game, but he made the most of it and thoroughly impressed. Moving ahead to Week 1, many expected for Jacobs to see his fair share of carries. Instead, No. 28 was relegated to just 10 carries which went for 57 yards.
One thing to remember though is Jacobs did average nearly six years a carry, so the lack of yards wasn’t due to a lack of impact but more so to a lack of opportunities.
The only other player to get a chance to get things going on the ground, Brandon Bolden, got the ball three times, totaling an unimpressive seven yards. For all the hoopla about McDaniels’ system, the Raiders’ run game disappointed on Sunday. While Bolden did catch one of the team’s two touchdown passes by Carr, the ground game was a different story.
Raiders cannot abandon the run game if they hope to win moving forward
The pace of the contest didn’t really do the running game any favors either. The Chargers and Justin Herbert were playing at a faster pace. It seemed like for the majority of the game, the Raiders defense was playing catch up; two, sometimes three steps behind.
Though you must take into account that most of the starters on defense didn’t play in the preseason, rust has to be accounted for. Perhaps McDaniels saw that this was going to be a shootout, even if it was out of necessity when you see that the Chargers jumped to 17 points before halftime, a two-touchdown advantage coming into the third quarter (17-3).
Early in the first quarter, Jacobs was handed a pitch that went for three yards, with Foster Moreau and Jakob Johnson helping on the block. So, the play design was there. On Jacobs’ first attempt to punch it in the endzone, he slipped, losing his footing with the Raiders just outside the five-yard line. Had Jacobs managed to punch that in, the game’s complexion would’ve been different early on?
The second half was a different story. The Raiders’ defense turned it around, tightened their grip, and suddenly, the Chargers’ offense stalled. They mustered only seven points in the second half. Coming out of halftime, the Raiders appeared to be sticking with the run game. In the third quarter alone, McDaniels had key adjustments and handed the ball the Jacobs for three big plays.
The first one went for seven yards at the 6:03 mark, an 18-yard up the middle that was stopped by Derwin James. The third play went for six yards at the 4:40 mark. After walking away with 10 points in the third quarter, you’d think McDaniels would’ve gotten this going.
Regrettably, Jacobs only saw one carry in the final quarter, punching it in for eight yards. Being down 24-13 likely pushed the Raiders to leave the run game, though to be fair, Carr’s interceptions only made matters worse by trying to force the ball.
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His over-aggressiveness ended up being costly. Against the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday, McDaniels has to make the most of Jacobs. He’s obviously a difference maker, and when you take into account that Arizona gave up 104 rushing yards to a pair of Kansas City Chiefs (Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Isiah Pacheco), Jacobs should be able to gash their run defense.