‘Real Deal' Josh Jacobs' Passion, Production Sets Tone for Raiders' Offense

ALAMEDA – Josh Jacobs breaks or equals a Raiders rookie rushing record every week, sometimes more than one.

He beat Bo Jackson's rushing total through six games after an awesome showing in Sunday's loss at Green Bay. His 124 yards rushing was his second straight triple-digit total, equaling Marcus Allen's feat through six games of his rookie season.

The University of Alabama product respects the company he's in but doesn't care much about milestones. That's especially true after a 42-24 thumping by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

"I'm just trying to win games," Jacobs said Sunday at Lambeau Field. "I could have 20 yards and I'd feel good if we won. Right now, I don't feel good. It just is what it is."

The end results show how well Jacobs has performed to this point, but it doesn't tell the whole story. There's something about the way he produces, with power and slashing ability and elusiveness that makes him different than most. And there's a toughness that garners respect.

Take his first and third runs from scrimmage as an example. Jacobs took his first carry off the left side, maneuvering between blockers before deciding to meet Packers safety Adrian Amos head-on. He lowered a shoulder and the boom, knocking the heavy hitter on his back.

Then he started right and broke back up the middle on his third touch, breaking a tackle before entering the second level. Then he stiff-armed Will Redmond near midfield and broke free for a 42-yard run.

He left the field at that point and headed into the locker room with a shoulder issue. Jacobs wasn't done. He took a shot in the ailing joint, came back the next series and kept on trucking. He knew before kickoff a good game was coming, and he wasn't going to stop after three totes.

"He told me during pregame warmups, ‘I'm on today. I got a great feeling,'" head coach Jon Gruden said. "He was on. He knew he was going to play well. First run of the game was spectacular. It was a great display of power. I think on his next run it was a great display of changing directions, stiff arm, slashing ability. He got hurt, went to the locker room. Had to take a shot in the shoulder. Came back, showed great toughness. He's the real deal."

He's tough, and he cares. That's clear in the way he talks to teammates, especially after a rare mistake. That's how he runs and shows commitment to the cause. The offense feeds off of that, with blockers working hard for him and skill players making sure he has space at the second level.

"That dude is incredible," tight end Darren Waller said. "He runs the ball with such energy that you feel like you have to match that. We don't want to just see him make great plays. We want to make great plays with him and help him do what he does. We all take on that attitude and let him be featured because that dude is the real deal."

He leads NFL rookies with 109 carries, 554 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He could've had five if a goal-line leap worked out, but his willingness to mix it up and fight for extra yards has people believing he's a truly special player comparable to some of the NFL's best. Ask him about that and he credits the line and fullback Alec Ingold for getting the run game going strong. Those components are vital, but Jacobs still has to make people miss. 

"The guy is a stud, one of the best backs in the NFL," quarterback Derek Carr said. "It will be a year or two before most people say it, but it's true right now. Talent-wise, he's awesome. He can do everything. … As a skill player in this offense, you have to run, catch and block really well. He does all of those things well and he wants to do all of those things well."

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He's so steadily productive and such a vital part of the Raiders offense that it's hard for Gruden to show restraint with his workload. He knows that's important to keep him going strong throughout the season, and the Raiders are watching his carry count closely. That's especially important for a player who wasn't a featured back in college.

"We're trying to monitor him," Gruden said. "We have two other good half backs in Jalen [Richard] and DeAndré [Washington], but when he's running like he's running, you have to feed the beast. He's hungry. He doesn't want to come out of the game either. This guy wants to be a great back. To do that he has to play through some tough injuries and some tough spots. We are going to try to be careful with him, we have been. I'll just say this, this is one heck of a young football player. One of the best I've ever been around at this age. He's really impressive."

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