There’s been a lot of discussion about Josh Jacobs after he played two series in the Hall of Fame Game. The Hall of Fame is generally considered a “warm up” game in which starters rarely see playing time. So it was interesting to see Jacobs on the field.
Other starters like Davante Adams, Derek Carr, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow all sat out. Clearly Josh Jacobs isn’t viewed as an important piece of their offense in the way those guys are.
This is backed up by the fact that the Raiders declined Josh Jacobs’ fifth-year option, making him a free agent after this season. With a new regime coming in, I am wary of Jacobs’ long-term value.
I searched through the last five Hall of Fame game box scores to see how often each team’s starting RB played in the game.
There have been 10 teams to play in this event dating back to 2017 (not including this year).
9 of the 10 teams didn’t play their starting running backs in these games. This includes teams like the Broncos in 2019, who had undrafted rookie RB Philip Lindsay and rookie Royce Freeman sit out!
The only team in which had their starting RB play was Steelers’ rookie Najee Harris last year in his first opportunity for game action.
In fact, most backup RBs didn’t even play in this game.
So what does this mean for Josh Jacobs and his future expectations? It confirms that things have been trending down for Jacobs over the past year.
Last season, Jacobs saw over two touches less per game than he did in his 2nd season in the league. He’s getting used more as a lead committee back with 15.9 touches per game than a true workhorse running back.
While Jacobs hasn’t necessarily been bad, he really hasn’t been good or stood out in any way. Last season he finished 54th amongst RBs in true yards per carrying and was 36th in breakaway run rate (3.2%) according to Player Profiler.
Jacobs also has decent competition in former starting running back Kenyan Drake on the team as well as a 4th round investment in Zamir White.
Another factor is head coach Josh McDaniels comes from the Bill Belicheck tree, and we all know how annoying his running back rotations can be on a week-to-week basis. Now, we don’t know if that will happen with the Raiders, but there is potential for it and something we need to keep in mind when it comes to analyzing the potential downside for Jacobs.
So far through Jacobs’ three seasons in the league, he has proven he is roughly a league-average starting running back in the league. If we continue to see growth in the receiving game like we did last year, he suddenly becomes a bit more intriguing for the longevity of his career.
Still, it’s best to assume the best days for Jacobs in the league are behind him. While he should still carve out a good role this year similar to what he has in the past, there are red flags.
Beyond this year, we have no idea what kind of market he will have in free agency, but it’s unlikely to be robust considering his own team was unwilling to pay him $8 million dollars next year to keep him.
I’m worried about Jacobs’ future and the Hall of Fame game was another data points towards his potential fall.