Alfonzo Robles Jr. says:
"I'm worried about containing Etienne after last week with Alvin Kamara."
I can understand why you would have some concern about the Jaguars' standout back.
After missing his entire rookie season with a foot injury, Travis Etienne Jr. has come back better than ever. The first-round pick from Clemson is currently leading the way in the Jacksonville backfield that has accumulated nearly 600 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on the season. Like Alvin Kamara, Etienne is also a threat in the passing game. He's currently fifth on the team in receiving yards and receptions – averaging nearly 130 total scrimmage yards over his past three games.
The big problem the Raiders defense had last week in stopping Kamara was tackling, as 123 of his 158 total yards against the Raiders were after contact. The fundamental issue is something that is being focused on this week in practice, noted defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
"What we have to do is simulate as much as we can, tackling situations, in terms of evolving," Graham said Tuesday. "Obviously without going live, that's the challenge, but I mean, all 32 teams have to deal with that challenge. College teams, high school teams, everybody has to deal with that. So, we've just got to make sure as we're working the drills, we're trying to create as game like situation as possible and just really focusing on the fundamentals."
Nate Dawg says:
"Give Jacobs as many touches as possible."
If we've learned anything this season so far, it's that when in doubt, feed Josh Jacobs.
Going into Week 9, Jacobs is top five in the league in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and carries.
After rushing for over 140 yards in three straight games, the running back, like the rest of the Raiders offense, ran into trouble against the Saints defense. The Alabama running back rushed for 43 yards last Sunday, his lowest total this season. The Silver and Black have proven to be at their best this season when they control the time of possession with a fierce running attack led by Jacobs.
"[W]e're excited the way Josh has played," General Manager Dave Ziegler said Wednesday. "As a running back, when you get in the NFL, it can be a short-term thing. It's a tough position to play, and Josh has shown improvement over the course of his career, and I think he's really taken a step this year. His ball security has really improved, he's improved in the pass game, he's improved in pass protection.
"He's always been a great runner. He continues to be a great runner. And he embodies a lot of the things that we're looking for in terms of a football player – his work ethic, his approach every day. I mean, this guy practices extremely hard. Josh has a lot of the qualities that we look for, and a lot of the qualities that we want going forward."
Sean H asks:
"Do you expect us to target Adams early and often, kind of like that Texans game?"
Adams, who's currently leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, fell ill last week which possibly could've altered his play against the Saints. After going for 95 receiving yards on eight catches in the win against the Texans, he caught one pass for three yards in New Orleans. The good new is he was a full participant in Thursday's practice. Additionally, the Jaguars have allowed the eighth-most passing yards to teams this season.
But with Adams being such a threat in the passing game, many defenses have thrown the kitchen sink at the receiver with a variety of different coverages and double teams. Head Coach Josh McDaniels wouldn't be surprised if that happens again this Sunday.
"I think the defense always has an opportunity to try to use schemes to limit players, there's no question that that happens," said McDaniels. "He's seen that his whole career once he started being a very productive player. ... I've always felt like if a player gets double teamed, if you're productive away from the double teams, then that forces the defense to consider how much they want to continue to do that.
"So, I think the performance and production of others, when the defense wants to put so much attention towards one player, always weighs into trying to limit how much that happens. Again, we'll try to do the best we can to help him continue to be productive, and at the same time, we need to be able to do other things in our offense when they choose to do that, to try to be productive and move the football."
View the best photos from Thursday's practice in Florida before the Raiders' Week 9 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field.