By now you’ve heard the reviews and read the reports. Josh Jacobs is the consensus number one running back in this draft class.
He’s quick and powerful, and able to power through tackles, avoid tacklers in the open field, and bounce to the outside when plays break down. The statistics and measurables are outstanding, and he can play in any system he’s drafted into. I’ve even read comparisons to Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley.
Well, I don’t buy all of that and neither should you. Stats only tell half the story, and anybody with a keyboard can tell you he’s the 2019 rookie running back to own. It’s my job to help you slow down, show you some tape, and consider that maybe there are some flaws to his game, and those flaws should be taken into consideration prior to drafting him onto your team. After all, the best owners not only draft the best players, but they also avoid potential busts as well.
At 5’10”, 216 pounds, Jacobs has the build of a quality running back. He’s not too lanky and has a strong compact frame. He only had around 300 total touches in his three-year career at Alabama, so there is plenty of tread left on the tires. Plus, he had a 5.9 yards per carry average over that time. His 5:1 ratio of rushes to catches is a characteristic of a true three-down running back. He was hard to tackle throughout his years at Alabama, and is now the darling of all fantasy writers in fantasy land.
Well… almost all. I am going to pull some tape in the form of gifs and show you some possible flaws in hisgame. It’s my job to try to think analytically and not to take Josh Jacobs at face value.
On the surface, this looks like a nice three-yard run. Jacobs fell forward even though he made contact at the line of scrimmage. The defense had seven men in the box vs six blockers for Jacobs. So all-in-all; not a bad run given these facts.
My focus, however, is on Jacobs’ actions during the play. This run utilizes a man-blocking scheme with a pulling guard towards the play-side A-gap, which is located to the right of the center. That means the play is specifically designed for there to be a hole at this particular spot, and it’s the RB’s job to hit the hole as quickly as possible.
The problem is that Jacobs didn’t take the ball and run full speed to where the hole is supposed to be. Instead, he used a stop-and-go technique, which is what running backs are supposed to do on zone blocking plays, not man.
A “stop-and-go technique” is where a running back is running full speed down the line of scrimmage along with an offensive line that is supposed to be running laterally in the same direction, and when the RB sees a hole big enough to run through, he uses his outside foot to ‘stop’ his momentum while he places all of his weight on his other foot to propel or ‘go’ off of.
Jacobs uses a zone technique on a man scheme, wasting time getting to the line of scrimmage and therefore meeting the defender earlier than he should have. He is unable to avoid the linebacker, and has to settle for a three-yard gain rather than what should have been a five-yard gain at a minimum. Either Jacobs forgot that this wasn’t zone blocking, or simply had a lapse in concentration. Either way, it’s a mental mistake.
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