The Denver Broncos open the 2019 regular season on Monday Night Football against the most popular team in football right now in the Oakland Raiders, expect that popularity has nothing to do with the actual game of football at this point.
Coming into Week 1, I was so excited to write about the new-look Raiders offense in my weekly offensive scouting report of the Broncos’ opponent. Instead, I find myself exhausted by all of the Antonio Brown news that continues to come to light.
For now, I really won’t focus on Antonio Brown, even though Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Brown will play Monday night. I’m sure fans are tired of hearing about Brown as much as I am, so we’ll skip over him.
The two guys I wanted to highlight for Oakland’s offense are two that were mostly overlooked on Hard Knocks: wide receiver Tyrell Williams and rookie running back Josh Jacobs.
Williams is a guy many should be familiar with thanks to his time in San Diego and Los Angeles with the Chargers. Once Williams hit free agency, the Raiders were quick to snatch him up, signing him to a four-year, $44 million deal, giving Oakland a dynamic downfield threat for Derek Carr to work with.
A true deep threat
During his final season with the Chargers, Williams was the true homerun guy with Philip Rivers, stretching the field vertically, which allowed for splash plays for himself, while also opening up the underneath routes for guys like Keenan Allen and Mike Willliams.
It remains to be seen what Williams’ role will be with the Raiders in their West Coast offense under Gruden and with Derek Carr at the helm, but he can certainly get deep, draw attention and still make plays.
While he’s known as a deep threat, Williams is a very underrated route runner that excels with clean releases and great footwork in short areas.
Here against the Raiders, ironically, last year, Williams runs a terrific route, shaking the cornerback with ease to make for a simple pitch and catch from Rivers. Watch the burst inside, the ability to stop on a dime, and then the burst back outside, leaving the Raiders corner falling over in space.
This is the dimension Williams can add to Oakland’s offense, should they want to reign him in a bit and let him work around the line of scrimmage.
Ideally, Williams takes the top off consistently, opening things up underneath for Brown, rookie Hunter Renfrow, Ryan Grant, and J.J. Nelson.
We shall see on Monday night.
As for Jacobs, he’s a great all-around back with very little wear and tear on his body from his days at Alabama.
We’ve seen very little of the first-round pick in preseason, so I’ve very curious to see what his role is once the regular season opens.
As a fan of Jacobs coming out of Alabama, I hope they give him the ball 25 times a game and let him bash his way all over the field.
He’s a quick-twitch athlete with the ball in his hands and runs with passion.
Lateral explosion, downhill burst
Watch this run against Auburn. I’m sure some of you have seen it during draft season, but this is one of my favorite runs from him. You can see the lateral explosion, the downhill burst, and the mentality to dish out punishment at the end of the run.
I absolutely love this guy.
He’s just a freak with the football in his hands.
Against Clemson in the national title game last year, Jacobs had one of the best cuts I’ve ever seen from a college back.
An elusive but punishing runner
I mean…just look at that. That’s silly. He’s so good.
If the Raiders utilize Jacobs correctly out of the chute, we could be looking at a dominant running back right away. He has the size, the strength, the speed, the hands, the feet…everything you want in a running back.
The key will be for the Broncos’ front seven to come out flying, hitting Jacobs in the mouth early to welcome him to the NFL, hoping to set the tone for the game. If the Raiders can get Jacobs going early on the ground and through the air, it could be a tough night for Denver.