How Raiders are building offense around Josh Jacobs, prolific run game


How Raiders are building offense around Josh Jacobs, prolific run game

Jon Gruden spent plenty of time watching Antonio Brown on film and in practice this offseason. He studied the elite receiver’s skill set, then headed to the dry-erase board – or maybe it’s all on an iPad these days – and created some unique ways to capitalize upon it either as a target or decoy to make life easier on others.

Brown was going to be the offensive centerpiece, albeit in a relatively balanced offense incorporating rookie running back Josh Jacobs.

Brown’s exit just before the regular season and his replacements’ struggles have caused an in-season focus shift, one that has recently centered on a prolific run game.

Jacobs, fullback Alec Ingold and an aggressive, physical offensive line have been excellent running the ball in the team’s three victories, including Sunday’s 24-21 victory against a stout Chicago defensive front.

“That’s just our identity,” right tackle Trent Brown said. “We are going to run the ball. It doesn’t matter who we play. We are going to assert ourselves and play our game.”

Credit goes to the players and to Gruden, offensive line coach Tom Cable and other staffers for creating an effective blocking scheme well executed by all involved.

The Raiders currently rank ninth in rushing offense at 134.4 yards per game and 10th at 4.9 yards per carry. Those numbers include two dominant showings against the Colts and Bears in consecutive weeks.

The Raiders can run inside and out, with zone or power, often extra yards generated by downfield blocks from receivers, tight ends or linemen moving downfield.

“No one talks about our guys up front,” Gruden said. “We've got some good tight ends that can a good fullback, great run back and our line is quality stuff.”

The Raiders have done a solid job with running even when the whole world knows what’s coming. That’s a sign that it’s going well on the ground.

So is the offensive balance. The Raiders have run more than they've passed three times. It’s no surprise they jumped out to early leads and won each game, avoiding the need to play catch-up.

Recent performances and the team’s commitment to the run has increased the confidence of all involved in its operation.

“We have a great run game. We really do,” tight end Foster Moreau said. “Our play action is effective and we play well off of it. Establishing the run is crucial for us. The more balanced you can be, the better you are. If you can control the tempo, you’re going to have some big days.”

It can also slow a good pass rush and give Derek Carr more time to work. The run game is the foundation of what they Raiders do right now, a trend that can continue next week against a Green Bay defense that has allowed 136 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry.

Offensive linemen salivate when given the opportunity to assert themselves in the run game, as the Raiders have done in recent weeks. We’ve seen quality from the guys up front despite both guard spots being in flux. 

Center Rodney Hudson is playing as well as ever, Trent Brown’s as good as advertised, Kolton Miller looks improved and Richie Incognito has solidified the left guard spot. The Raiders have played several right guards, with Denzelle Good filling in lately until Gabe Jackson gets back.

[RELATED: NFL flexes Raiders-Texans Week 8 game into 1:25 PT slot]

Those guys want to keep on running, for sure.

“They like it. It’s fun to block for a guy like Jacobs,” Gruden said. “Their hard work and their effort is rewarded every time we hand this kid the ball. They’re gaining confidence. I think we’re all seeing that this offense line is pretty good. Hopefully they start getting the credit that they deserve.”

Raiders-Titans odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 14 game

Raiders-Titans odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 14 game

The Raiders badly need a win Sunday at home against the Titans.

But Vegas and several NFL experts aren't on Oakland's side.

Despite the game being played at the Coliseum, the Raiders are underdogs according to most oddsmakers.

With a win over the Titans, the Raiders will keep their slim playoff hopes alive. A loss gives Jon Gruden's team almost no chance of reaching the postseason.

[RELATED: Five Raiders to watch vs. Titans]


Caesars: Titans -3 (-105)
Consensus: Titans -3 (-106)
Westgate: Titans -2.5 (-120)
Wynn: Titans -2.5 (-120)


Paul Gutierrez, Raiders 23, Titans 21
Turron Davenport, Titans 24, Raiders 17
Gregg Rosenthal, Titans 27, Raiders 13
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Raiders 23, Titans 20
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Titans 27, Raiders 17

Raiders vs. Titans live stream: How to watch Week 14 NFL game online

Raiders vs. Titans live stream: How to watch Week 14 NFL game online

Each of the last four games of the season are important for the Raiders (6-6), but Sunday's clash with the Titans (7-5) is vital to keeping their playoff hopes alive.

If the Raiders lose Sunday, the final three games might not be as important.

At the moment, Oakland's postseason odds sit at 7 percent. A win boosts their odds to 15 percent, but a loss would give the Raiders just a 1 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Entering Sunday's game at the Oakland Coliseum, the Titans hold the No. 7 seed in the AFC while the Raiders are No. 8, so the contest will have serious implications on the playoff race.

The Raiders' offense took a big hit Friday when star right tackle Trent Brown was ruled out due to a pectoral injury. On defense, Jon Gruden and Co. need to make sure they slow down Tennessee running back Derrick Henry in order to have a chance to win.

[RELATED: Five Raiders to watch vs. Titans]

Here's how to watch the Raiders-Titans Week 14 clash on TV and online:

Start time: Sunday, Dec. 8, at 1:25 p.m. PT
TV Channel: CBS
Live stream: fuboTV -- Get a free trial