ALAMEDA – The Raiders didn’t run the ball particularly well against the New York Jets.
There’s no shame in that as a standalone. Gang Green, after all, sports the league’s best run defense.
Added to previous performances, however, it shows a negative trend. The Raiders have been less efficient running the football over the past three games, as opposing teams place a great emphasis on stopping it.
The Raiders averaged 4.8 yards per carry over their first eight games, but averaged just 3.7 against the L.A. Chargers, 3.2 against the Cincinnati Bengals and 3.1 against the Jets.
“The stats running the ball aren’t as good. I think we all take that personally,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “It’s a hard thing to do in this league, to run the way we run it. We aren’t running options and scrambling for yards. We’re turning around and handing it to a back and we’re doing it in predictable situations. But I love our line. We’re going to need to play well for sure, coming up this week.”
The Raiders must gain steady yards on the ground to compete and thrive Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, where a victory would put the combatants in a tie atop the AFC West.
The Chiefs rank No. 30 against the run and allow 5.1 yards per carry, setting feature back Josh Jacobs up for a post-Thanksgiving feast.
The first-round draft pick’s numbers haven’t dipped steadily with the team as a whole, averaging 4.4 yards per carry against the Chargers, 4.8 against the Bengals before dipping way down to 3.4 against the Jets.
Jacobs viewed that game as both an anomaly and a wake-up call that could serve the Raiders well.
“I think this game will benefit us more than anything,” Jacobs said. “We kind of needed it. We’ll see how things play out.”
The Raiders have all the pieces required to run the ball well. They have a massive front and an excellent back in Jacobs who shouldn’t be on a pitch count in this crucial matchup with the Chiefs.
The Raiders must do better right away, even with teams stacking up the box to slow down an obvious team strength.
“It’s a combination of us needing to do a better job as coaches, putting our guys in better position,” Gruden said. "I think teams no doubt see Jacobs and they want to try to commit people to stop him. We’ve got to do better, maybe throwing it at times to keep them off balance, but we’re still running it pretty good compared to other teams that I study.”