Josh Jacobs isn’t the Raiders’ most vocal leader, so his words tend to carry plenty of weight in the locker room.
The running back decided it was time to speak up Sunday after the team continued to exhibit many of the bad habits that led to a three-game losing streak last month and have had a crippling impact on its playoff hopes.
“It was before the game, during the game, halftime. A little bit whenever I felt like we needed it,” Jacobs said of when he voiced his concerns during the Washington Football Team’s 17-15 win at Allegiant Stadium. “Sometimes, I feel like you can’t always walk hand-in-hand with people. Sometimes you have to push them.”
Jacobs said it was more motivational than antagonistic, but he thought a message needed to be delivered after another slow start, more struggles on third down and another week of failing to establish the tone in a winnable game.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “It’s annoying, really. Starting slow every week I feel like and taking too long to be who we are. It’s definitely frustrating, and I voiced that a little bit today.
“I feel like I have the respect of the guys, so when I say something, it’s not coming from a negative standpoint. I don’t really cuss at them and stuff like that, I just try to motivate them.”
Jacobs ran for 52 yards on 13 carries, caught nine passes for 38 yards and scored the Raiders’ only touchdown. But he wasn’t excluding himself from the laundry list of problems.
“I went the wrong way on three plays,” he said. “I ran the wrong route or went the wrong way. They weren’t major plays that really made a difference in the game, and I still gained yards on one of the runs, but it’s just little details. That’s really the only plays I have on my mind right now.”
Jacobs said part of his message was expressing a belief that the Raiders have played down to the level of the opposition and put themselves in positions to lose winnable games. It’s a new experience for Jacobs, who played for a dominant collegiate program at Alabama.
“I’ve never been a part of it, so I don’t really know the answer to it,” he said.
The issues are plentiful, and long-term solutions are likely to take time, but Jacobs thinks the answers might be simple.
“I would say practice, but we work at practice,” he said. “I think it’s just coming in confident in the game and not trying to be out of your character, but really just executing the plays and whatever is called. … I think we just coast a little too much, and that’s definitely frustrating.”
Even though the Raiders lost for the fourth time in five games, Jacobs doesn’t think his message fell on deaf ears. He pointed to a better offensive line performance in the second half and hopes it can be something to build on, though he admitted pointing out flaws is easier than fixing them.
Jacobs didn’t blame the play-calling of offensive coordinator Greg Olson, but he didn’t necessarily endorse it, either.
“All I know is I can control what I can control,” he said. “I can control how I lead the guys. I’m not out there making play calls. It’s my job, whatever he calls, to make it work. That’s what I try to do. But, like I said, I feel like the guys come out slow, and that’s everybody, including me.”
Far too often, he thinks the team has waited for something good to happen before getting amped up. And he’s sick of waiting.
“We have to have some juice or some energy or some type of swag to us,” he said. “I feel like we come in stiff and dull in games sometimes, and I don’t feel like it should take someone making a big play for everyone to take to that mindset of wanting to be on that. So that’s kind of where I was at with it.”