After an unprecedented offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders received monumental contributions from running back Josh Jacobs as he paves the way to a 34-30 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Las Vegas Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs showed today why he’s such a special rusher. He proved to be worth the No. 24 overall pick during his respectable rookie campaign in 2019, and carried that over into Week 1 of the 2020 season as the Raiders earned their first win 34-30 in Carolina for their new home of Las Vegas.
The Raiders entered their matchup against the Carolina Panthers with expectations of displaying their much-improved offense against coach Matt Rhule’s inexperienced Carolina defense. It didn’t take long to see the Raiders second-year running back pick up right where he left off last season.
“That was a little bit like how Walter Payton used to play,” Jon Gruden said of his young running back. “It was hot as hell. He got beat up early and insisted on coming back and insisted he got the ball as a runner and a receiver.”
Gruden dialed up a mixture of different looks — calling 30 passes, compared to 31 handoffs. Jacobs got involved in both aspects of the game, taking 25 carries for 93 yards and three touchdowns. Through the air, he caught four passes for 46 yards.
Collectively, the Raiders averaged 4.3 yards per rushing attempt, with Henry Ruggs III and Devonte Booker getting their looks to rush behind the Raiders’ mammoth offensive line as well.
While the offensive line didn’t allow any sacks, they did experience injuries among their front five. Trent Brown left the game in the first half with a calf injury, causing Sam Young to fill in at right tackle. Young held his own along the edge until the third quarter when he suffered a groin injury. Denzelle Good wound up replacing Young, finishing the game at right tackle.
Even as Jacobs did most of the Raiders’ damage on the ground, Derek Carr helped maintain a balanced approach. Carr went 22-for-30 with 239 yards and one touchdown.
The defense had moments of showing promise, but they also displayed the fact that they’re a young unit periodically throughout the game. Much of the buzz throughout training camp regarding the defense included talk about Clelin Ferrell and Damon Arnette. Ferrell only tallied two tackles and generated little to no pressure on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
However, one of Ferrell’s tackles specifically, came in the form of delivering the game-clinching tackle to seal the victory over Carolina.
Arnette recorded five tackles and one pass breakup in his NFL debut. He quietly had a productive first half, but late in the fourth quarter, Arnette slipped and was beat by receiver Robby Anderson, resulting in a 75-yard touchdown.
The return of safety Johnathan Abram was everything he’s been hyped up to be since the Raiders took him on day one of the 2019 NFL Draft. Abram had several wallops, including a stout hit on Panthers’ star running back, Christian McCaffery. Despite his return to form, Abram said he and his teammates still have a long way to go.
“It felt great to be back out there with my guys,” Abram said. “Today was a sloppy effort on the defense’s part. We got to go out and execute a lot better.”
Ultimately, the Raiders’ cohesiveness on offense looked up to par. Defensively, you saw the growing pains that come along with a young unit as the Raiders started five players who entered their first or second season in the NFL.
With Las Vegas securing their first victory, they’ll now play host to the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football inside brand new Allegiant Stadium.