Josh Jacobs shows he's key Raiders weapon after Antonio Brown exodus

Josh Jacobs shows he's key Raiders weapon after Antonio Brown exodus

OAKLAND -- Antonio Brown was the marquee name of the Raiders' offseason of change. The name that went up in bright lights to signal this season would be different. 

But Brown was far from the only offensive weapon that Raiders coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock brought in to give the offensive unit a facelift. 

With Brown gone, strapped to a social-media-powered rocket with a one-way ticket to New England, the Raiders had to lean on some of the "other" acquisitions in their 24-16 season-opening win over the Denver Broncos on Monday night. 

Raiders fans and the NFL should get acquainted with the name Josh Jacobs. He's Exhibit A. 

The rookie running back was taken with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and tabbed with being the bell cow for the Raiders' offense for the foreseeable future. A powerful runner with limited wear on his tires, Jacobs is a do-it-all back whom Gruden was excited to unleash on the rest of the NFL. 

He was unleashed in full on the Broncos. 

Jacobs reminded people why he was so highly coveted Monday night, as the Alabama product rushed for 85 yards on 23 carries and found the end zone twice, the first time by way of a goal-line leap. He also added one catch for 28 yards, making him the first running back to notch over 100 yards from scrimmage and score two touchdowns in his NFL debut since Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson did it in 2001. 

"It's huge -- I mean, I just found that out," Jacobs said when asked about his NFL milestone debut. "I looked up to him. That's my favorite running back of all time. Just to be mentioned with him, that's a blessing. That's very humbling."

Jacobs' numbers don't do his running justice. He was quick, powerful, showed great vision and rewarded the Raiders and Gruden for putting faith in him to be the Silver and Black's franchise back. Jacobs was pleased with his debut, but there were certain aspects of his game that he wished he could have showcased, and he knows he "left some yards out there."

"It's just me putting my eyes in the right place," Jacobs said. "Not only that, just being patient. I was patient on a lot of runs, but they was doing a slot of slants and things like that, and just taking it the extra step would be huge for me.

"Just going in and looking at myself and doing film study, that's the way to improve. The biggest thing is just trying to get better every day and just the want-to."

Without Brown, many thought the Raiders' offense would go back to the punchless unit they trotted out last season. That was not the case.

Led by Jacobs' big debut and an impressive night from quarterback Derek Carr, the Raiders racked up 357 yards of offense on Vic Fangio's Broncos defense, proving what Jacobs knew all along: Oakland's offense will be just fine without the self-proclaimed Mr. Big Chest.

"It just comes from practicing and playing with each other," Jacobs said about the confidence in the offense without Brown. "We scrimmaged against the Rams and all of that, and he wasn't with us. So, we was doing all of that as a unit. Like I tell people, it wasn't really that big of a deal for the guys on the inside.

"Obviously, he's a great player. He's a top-10 wide receiver forever, but at the same time, we got guys that can play, too."

[RELATED:  Gruden wishes Pats 'good luck' with AB in final word on saga]

Brown's social-media meltdown and subsequent release could have left the Raiders reeling. Instead, they went out and rolled over an AFC West opponent in Week 1 like no one was missing. 

Because no one notable was. At least not to them. 

Derek Carr posts photo with Khalil Mack, adding to Bears trade rumors

Derek Carr posts photo with Khalil Mack, adding to Bears trade rumors

The picture of Tom Brady talking to Raiders owner Mark Davis at a UFC fight was burned into Oakland Las Vegas Raiders fans' minds.

What would that mean for Derek Carr? Could he be headed to the Windy City to meet up with an old friend? 

There has been a lot of speculation about Carr getting traded this offseason. Carr had a less than memorable season during the Raiders' last year in Oakland, and a photo on his Instagram just adds to the swirling thoughts.

Carr added a picture of himself and Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, with no caption.

Naturally, the comments section flooded with speculation. 

The two are former Raiders teammates, and despite Carr's "meh" season, he would be an improvement over current Bears QB Mitch Trubisky -- who could also use a change of scenery. 

[RELATED: One NFL exec sees Raiders as Brady's fallback]

Carr's contract could make a trade hard, but this IG post on top of everything else makes us think.

The quarterback will blow out 29 candles on his birthday cake next month which could only help his cause. 

Raiders' chance to end playoff drought would improve with NFL proposal

Raiders' chance to end playoff drought would improve with NFL proposal

More isn't always better, but in the Raiders' case, it nearly would have been.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the NFL reportedly is considering a proposal that would expand the postseason structure to add a seventh playoff team to each conference.

If the proposal passes, only one team per conference would receive a first-round bye in the playoffs, as opposed to the top-two seeds under the current format. With the No. 1 seed getting a bye, the No. 2 seed would face the No. 7 seed, No. 3 would face No. 6 and No. 4 would face No. 5 in the wild-card round, with the higher seed playing at home.

Had the proposal been in effect this past season, the Raiders still would have missed out on the postseason, but just barely. At 7-9, Jon Gruden's club finished a full game behind the 8-8 Pittsburgh Steelers, who ultimately would have been the seventh team and final team in the AFC playoffs.

Adding to the excruciating factor, one-third of the Raiders' losses came by four or fewer points, including two in the final three weeks of the regular season. If they end up winning those nailbiters, that might have been enough to sneak into the postseason under the new proposed format. On the other hand, Pittsburgh lost its final three games of the season, including two by one score, so the Steelers could make the same argument.

[RELATED: Report: Growing sense teams could trade for Raiders QB Carr]

What's done is done, however, and the Raiders now have missed out on the playoffs three years running. Adding another playoff spot automatically would increase their chances of ending that drought in their first season in Las Vegas, but then again, it also would the playoff chances for the other 14 teams in the AFC.