Josh Jacobs setting lofty standards amid stellar Raiders rookie season

Josh Schrock

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders couldn't have scripted a better start to Josh Jacobs' NFL career.

After selecting Jacobs No. 24 overall in the first round this year -- one of the picks they received in the Khalil Mack trade -- the Alabama product has run all over everyone in his path, proving to be the feature back head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock believed he was when starring for the Crimson Tide.

Jacobs already has set the Raiders' rookie rushing record. He's closing in on 1,000 yards and likely will eclipse the mark either Sunday against the Jets or in Week 13 against the Chiefs. He's been the definition of a bell cow, teaming up with rookie fullback Alec Ingold as the catalyst of a dynamic Raiders rushing attack. 

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Racking up the yards while passing legends like Marcus Allen would make most rookies happy with their first NFL season, proud at their contributions to a team in the thick of the playoff race.

But Jacobs isn't that type of player. Stats don't matter. There are no number barriers he can cross to give himself a pat on the back. It should be no surprise the electric back out of the Nick Saban School of Self Before Team looks to things other than numbers to assess his play each game. 

He racked up 112 yards in the Raiders' 17-10 win over the Bengals. He wasn't happy with that, putting the ball on the turf and not finding the painted area will do that.

"I gauge [success] more off of what am I reading, if I made the right cut, if I gave enough effort on the play or if I need to tone down the effort," Jacobs said Wednesday after practice. "There's a lot of things that go into it that I look at whether it's play speed or should I have made somebody miss? There's a lot of things I think about.

"Last week, I missed a couple holes and that's the first time that I can say that I did that multiple times, not just once or twice. I probably had four plays that I wanted back so that's probably what I'm trying to come in and execute."

Jacobs has 923 yards rushing and seven touchdowns in 10 games. He's the favorite or at least the co-favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Raiders open just about every game by sticking the ball in Jacobs' belly and letting him go to work. He's a focal point of their present and future.

Quarterback Derek Carr has called him one of the best running backs in the NFL, noting people won't call him that because he's a rookie. 

Jacobs ranks fourth in rushing yards, yards per carry, yards per game and is sixth in touchdowns. By every metric, he's been sensational.

The Raiders believed he would be great and likely were ready to sprint to the podium to turn in the card with his name on it the second the Texans passed at No. 23. 

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He's rewarded their faith time and time again during his rookie season. The talent was undeniable even when Jacobs was splitting carries with Damien Harris at Alabama. All you had to do was turn on the tape and watch Jacobs carve up LSU, run past Oklahoma and deliver punishing blows against Clemson to see he had the everything it takes to be a star at this level.

Jacobs knew it, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been surprised by his early success.

Achieving success while not meeting your own standards gives one even greater drive to ascend to new heights.

"It's like I know I could be better, you know what I'm saying?" Jacobs said. "So that eats at me more than doing good."

Josh Jacobs setting lofty standards amid stellar Raiders rookie season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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