Running back Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons but managed only 872 this season as he was hampered by injuries and missed two games.
The 5-10, 220-pound Jacobs, selected by the Raiders in the first round (24th overall) out of Alabama in the 2019 NFL Draft, already ranks 13th in franchise history with 3,087 yards and 28 touchdowns, but had he been healthy this season it’s possible he could already be in the top 10.
Jacobs played through a rib injury late in the season, but did some of his best work then, rushing for 407 yards in the last four games including more than 125 in two games and 83 in the Wild Card playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I can feel it right now, I can feel it when I breathe, but my team needed me,” Jacobs said of the injury.
Jacobs should come back healthy next season and continue to climb on the all-time franchise list.
Hall of Famer Marcus Allen is obviously the greatest running back the Raiders ever had, rushing for a franchise-record 8,545 yards with 79 touchdowns in 11 seasons from 1982-92 before having a falling out with Managing General Partner Al Davis and finishing his career with the arch-rival Kansas City Chiefs.
Allen, the 10th overall pick in the 1982 NFL Draft out of USC after winning the Heisman Trophy, played in six Pro Bowls, was selected first-team All-Pro twice and was named Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl XVIII, when he rushed for 191 yards and touchdowns of five and 74 yards as the Raiders routed the Washington Redskins, 38-9.
“Of all the players that we had in my 25 years with the Raiders, I have to say that Marcus Allen was the best one that we had,” said Hall of Famer Ron Wolf, who was a Raiders scouting executive for 25 years and later General Manager of the Green Bay Packers.
Bruising fullback Mark van Eeghen, who helped the Raiders win Super Bowls XI and XV, is No. 2 on the all-time franchise list with 5,907 yards and scored 34 touchdowns between 1974-81. In Super Bowl XV, he gave up his role as the No. 1 rusher and was a devastating lead blocker as Clarence Davis followed him for 137 yards in a 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Checking in at No. 3 is running back Clem Daniels, who would have many more than his 5,103 yards and 30 touchdowns in seven years if not for a late-season knee injury in 1967 that knocked him out of Super Bowl II and virtually ended his career. Daniels rushed for 1,099 yards and caught 30 passes for 655 yards while scoring eight total touchdowns to be voted the American Football League’s Most Valuable Player in 1963.
Napoleon Kaufman, who rushed for a Raiders single-game record of 227 yards in a 1997 game against the Denver Broncos, ranks No. 4 with 4,792 yards from 1995-2000 and definitely would be higher on the list had he not retired suddenly before the 2011 season to become a Christian minister.
Marv Hubbard, like Van Eeghen a bulldozing fullback out of Colgate, rounds out the top five with 4,394 hard-earned yards and 22 TDs between 1969-75. Even though he knew it would eventually cost him his job, Hubbard graciously helped Van Eeghen learn the ropes when he joined the Raiders in 1974.
Darren McFadden is sixth with 4,247 yards and scored 25 touchdowns between 2008-14, followed by short-yardage specialist Pete Banaszak with 3,772 yards and 47 touchdowns from 1966-78, in addition to scoring twice in Super Bowl XI.
Tyrone Wheatley comes in at No. 8 with 3,682 yards and 32 TDs from 199-2004, while Davis had 3,640 yards and 26 touchdowns from 1971-78, and Justin Fargas rounds out the top 10 with 3,369 yards from 2003-09, edging out Charlie Smith, who gained 3,351 yards from 1968-74.
And who knows where Bo Jackson might be had things gone differently?
The 1985 Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn gained 2,782 yards in a part-time role with the Raiders from 1987-90 because he also played major league baseball, and had his career cut short by a hip injury sustained at the end of a 34-yard run in a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
If Jacobs can stay healthy and productive, he could someday rank with the Raiders’ all-time best.
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