It's no secret, the Las Vegas Raiders are at their best when they're able to run the football. Powered by star running back Josh Jacobs, the Silver and Black boast one of the best run games in the National Football League, but over the last two weeks, the rush hasn't been what it normally is.
Through 12 weeks of action, the Raiders are eighth in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 125.6, but they've failed to eclipse the century mark since Week 10. Against the Kansas City Chiefs, Derek Carr played at an elite level, but that's when the struggles on the ground started. As a team, the Raiders rushed 26 times for 89 yards and reached the end zone once. That might be a solid day's work for an individual performance, but the offense is used to seeing a bigger contribution from its stable of backs.
Even though Carr is capable of carrying the load when he needs to, the Raiders' identity is in the rushing attack because of the team's ability to control the clock and line of scrimmage; however, against the Falcons, neither Carr nor the rush was able to get going in Week 12. The offense's five turnovers dug itself in a hole it wasn't able to get out of and because of game flow, the Raiders were forced to try and air it out, making the rush an afterthought.
Wednesday afternoon, Head Coach Jon Gruden briefly recapped Sunday's game and discussed what the team needs to do better in order to be an effective rushing team again.
"We got stuffed on fourth-and-1 and we got to do a better job as a coaching staff obviously and we got to continue to emphasize it," Gruden said. "We're good at it, I think people respect that we're pretty good at it. We're getting a lot of great looks from defenses to stop the run, but we got to be better helping our players and we got to get some of our guys out of the training room out there to help us too."
Josh Jacobs put the league on notice last year — I still maintain he should've won Offensive Rookie of the Year — and defensive coordinators are paying him the respect he deserves by making adjustments to stop him. He still ranks top five among all running backs with 782 yards, but it's been tough sledding the last two weeks for Jacobs and his fellow running backs. Even though it's been challenging, Carr doesn't think there's a reason to overreact.
"I don't think there's anything to worry about or anything like that," Carr said Wednesday. "I think there are still creases, I think there's still [running] room. Any time we go three-and-out, any time we turn the ball over, that's a lot of shortened possessions which equals not a lot of yards, not a lot of touches, and all that stuff. I think there's a lot that goes into it. But, I've been on a team that we couldn't run the ball one foot to save our life. I remember those times. It's not one of those feelings. No matter how many people are in the box, I still feel confident in what we can do."
This week, the Raiders will travel to New York to face the winless New York Jets, but the team is respecting their opponent regardless of their record. The Jets are 11th in the NFL against the run, allowing 111 yards per game. The Jets' defensive line is led by a second-year defensive tackle, Quinnen Williams, who's made a strong impression around the league in a short amount of time.
"Quinnen Williams, he's a heck of a player, man," Gruden said of the former first-round pick. "You turn on No. 95, [Nathan] Shepherd, Quinnen Williams, excellent players. 'Q' is a good pass rusher, he can bat down balls, he's a really good emerging, young defensive tackle."
The Jets might be winless, but it's a tough week for the Raiders to try and reestablish their run game, however, they need to get it rolling again.
The Raiders start the week off with a practice at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center in preparation for their Week 13 matchup against the New York Jets.