Ladainian Tomlinson

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. 

LaDainain Tomlinson: Raiders' Josh Jacobs should be rookie of the year

LaDainain Tomlinson: Raiders' Josh Jacobs should be rookie of the year

The Raiders drafted Josh Jacobs at No. 24 overall this year and immediately slotted him into the start spot, so he’ll certainly have a chance to make an immediate impact.

LaDainian Tomlinson expects it to be overwhelmingly positive. The Pro Football Hall of Fame running back said so this week on NFL Network, predicting Jacobs would win offensive rookie of the year honors.

“I think he’s going to have the opportunities to do so,” Tomlinson said on NFLN’s “Total Access.” “There’s nobody in that backfield, and he can do it all.”

The former San Diego Chargers great compared Jacobs’ early NFL opportunity to one Jon Gruden gave Cadillac Williams in Tampa Bay.

Gruden ran the Buccaneers when they selected Williams No. 5 overall and then gave him 310 touches as a rookie in 2005. He turned that sum into 1,259 yards total offense and six touchdowns. He got 225 touches the following year and totaled 994 yards and a score.

Jacobs should do better than both of those output sums in this offense – Gruden will give Jacobs similar opportunities -- loaded with weapons at the skill positions. Assuming, of course, that he stays healthy.

Tomlinson then used highlights to show why Jacobs should be effective, including plays made as a runner, receiver and pass protector.

Jacobs saw that Tomlinson video clip on Twitter and gave a motivated response.

Tomlinson is widely considered among the greatest all-around running backs, with a career Jacobs should aspire to and one Raiders fans would be thrilled for him to have in silver and black.

The pair have met, and Tomlinson came away impressed.

“That kid is ready to play,” Tomlinson said. “That kid is going to have a huge impact. He might be the rookie of the year."