Raiders Running Game Ready to Rebound

The Las Vegas Raiders running game fell apart in Atlanta against the Falcons, but they are ready to rebound in Gotham against the New York Jets.
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The Las Vegas Raiders ground game has run hot-and-cold this season, and the last two weeks it’s definitely been the latter.

While the Raiders (6-5) rank eighth in the NFL at an average of 125.6 yards per game with Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker running behind a revolving offensive line, the ground game was only passable against the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks ago and pathetic last Sunday in an embarrassing 43-6 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

“Well that’s an understatement against Atlanta,” said Coach Jon Gruden, who liked the balance the Raiders' offense displayed earlier, with the ground game complementing quarterback Derek Carr and the passing game. “We got stuffed on fourth-and-1 and we got to do a better job as a coaching staff obviously, and we got to continue to emphasize it.

“We’re good at it, I think people respect that we’re pretty good at it. We’re getting a lot of great looks from defenses to stop the run, but we got to be better helping our players and we got to get some of our guys out of the training room out there to help us too.”

Pro Bowl tackle Trent Brown, who has missed most of the season because of injuries and Covid-19, returned to practice Wednesday but guard Richie Incognito has been lost for the season after undergoing foot surgery.

With the likes of Denzelle Good, Sam Young, and Brandon Parker stepping in to join the outstanding trio of center Rodney Hudson, guard Gabe Jackson, and tackle Kolton Miller, the Raiders have run the ball well for much of the season.

However, the Chiefs limited the Raiders to 89 yards while pulling out a victory in the final minute, 35-31, while the Silver and Black were held to a measly 40 yards on 14 carries by the Falcons.

“I don’t think, necessarily, we did much well in the game Sunday,” Carr said. “I don’t think there’s a problem. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about or anything like that. I think there’s still creases, I think there’s still room.

“Any time we go three-and-out, any time we turn the ball over, that’s a lot of shortened possessions which equals not a lot of yards, not a lot of touches and all that stuff. I think there’s a lot that goes into it. But, I’ve been on a team that we couldn’t run the ball one foot to save our life. I remember those times. It’s not one of those feelings. No matter how many people are in the box, I still feel confident in what we can do.”

Jacobs, who rushed for 1,150 yards last season as a rookie and has 782 yards and nine touchdowns this season, was limited to 27 yards on seven carries by the Falcons, while Booker, who has been a good change-of-pace with 326 yards and three scores, managed only six yards on five carries in Atlanta.

To make matters worse, Jacobs lost a fumble to the Falcons on his best run of the day for 17 yards in the third quarter and left the game for good after sustaining a right ankle injury on the play.

Jacobs missed practice on Wednesday, but Gruden has said he expects his lead back to play on Sunday against the New York Jets (0-11) at MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Jets are 11th in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 111 yards per game, and if Jacobs is healthy the Raiders should be able to gain that many and probably more if they can block and run the way they did earlier this year.

Their season probably depends on it.

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