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Getty Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels.

There weren’t too many surprises from the Las Vegas Raiders‘ preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The offensive line predictably struggled, many of the top players sat out and Josh McDaniels looked in control as a playcaller. The biggest thing that stuck out involved running back Josh Jacobs.

The former Pro Bowler and first-round pick started the game and played in the first two series. Teams don’t usually have key starters play a lot of snaps in preseason games, especially when a lot of other players are out. This has led to some suggesting that Jacobs could be on a different roster when the season starts.

A few analysts pointed out that they believe that the Raiders played Jacobs in an effort to gauge trade interest in him around the league.

They trying to showcase Josh Jacobs to trade him?!

— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) August 5, 2022

I’m confident the Raiders are looking to trade Josh Jacobs

— Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler) August 5, 2022

Usually the Hall of Fame Game is
completely irrelevant. BUT this… this was interesting.

#nfl #raiders #joshjacobs #sports @brandoncarney @Raiders

— Heavy Sports (@HeavyOnSports) August 5, 2022

After the game, McDaniels said that he only played Jacobs because he believes that running backs need some more reps in the preseason than other positions. Time will tell if that was true based on if Jacobs is on the roster when the season starts.

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Why Would Raiders Trade Jacobs?

Barring a big offer, trading Jacobs right now doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Raiders. He’s a very good running back when healthy and looked good in the preseason opener. He’s also only due $2.1 million in base salary which is a very low price for a player of his caliber. Plus, he’s off the books after the season.

Rookie fourth-round pick Zamir White could have a bright future but suffered two torn ACLs in college. Why rely on an unproven rookie when you have a proven commodity on a good contract? The only way a Jacobs trade should happen is if the Raiders get a really good offer. It’s possible that a team with their eyes on the playoffs suffers an injury at running back and gets desperate. A situation like that could yield a strong return for Las Vegas. Anything less than a third-round pick for Jacobs seems like a bad trade unless the Raiders know something that isn’t public information.

How Confident Are Raiders in White?

Barring an All-Pro season from Jacobs, this is likely his last year in Las Vegas. There are too many signs showing that the Raiders aren’t interested in keeping him long-term. A promising rookie season from White would only make that decision easier. He’s a lot cheaper and is under contract for the next four seasons.

New general manager Dave Ziegler has shown a willingness to pay big money to a lot of players but there’s no reason to believe he feels the same way about running backs. Teams don’t like paying running backs big contracts anymore and it appears Jacobs could be the latest casualty. He recently said he wants to stay with the Raiders long-term but it might be up to him. He’d need to show that he’s a significantly better option than White going forward for the Raiders to consider paying him.

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Raiders Darren Waller Takes Subtle Shot at Jon Gruden

Getty Darren Waller with Jon Gruden.

Jon Gruden’s return to the Raiders wasn’t a big success but he did get the team going in the right direction. They improved in wins each year under him. However, expectations are a lot higher for a coach making $10 million a year and Gruden didn’t meet those.

Despite being fashioned as an offensive guru, one of the Raiders’ biggest issues under him involved the offense. The team could not score touchdowns in the red zone at a high enough rate. They were never better than 22nd in the NFL in red zone touchdown efficiency during Gruden’s time with the team, per Team Rankings.

The Raiders have had a perfect red zone target in Darren Waller. The star tight end is 6-foot-6 and can jump higher than most defenders can reach. Despite that, Waller only has 14 touchdowns in three seasons. He’s now got a new head coach in Josh McDaniels who will hopefully solve the Raiders’ red zone issues. Waller recently opened up about the red zone woes and made it seem like Gruden didn’t really know what he was doing when calling the offense once the field shortened.

“There was a lot of times in the last couple years where I felt like there wasn’t a clear defined attack in the red zone or like a plan for me specifically. I was kind of like “what the f*** am I doing?’ sometimes,” Waller said on the “Bussin’ with the Boys” podcast. “But now I kind of feel like that’s something that’s in place with Josh [McDaniels]… for me there’s no reason why my big a** shouldn’t be dominating in the red zone at all times.”

It certainly sounds like Waller is more confident in McDaniels’ ability to get him looks in the end zone than he ever was in Gruden.

“A lot of times in the past couple years…there wasn’t a clear defined attack in the red zone…that’s in place with Josh” @BussinWTB

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— Raider Nation Boston (@RaiderNationBOS) August 11, 2022

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Can McDaniels Fix Raiders’ Red Zone Issues?

A big reason owner Mark Davis wanted to hire McDaniels was so that he can fix the red zone issues. The Raiders have too much talent on offense not to score more touchdowns. The team has a great kicker in Daniel Carlson, who led the NFL in scoring over the past two years, but they’d prefer if he came on the field a lot less.

In New England, McDaniels was able to field an offense that had success in the red zone. The Patriots ranked seventh in red zone touchdown efficiency last season, and they did that with a rookie quarterback. McDaniels now has Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow, Davante Adams and Waller to work with. He should have no problem getting the Raiders to score touchdowns all over the field this season.

Waller’s Training Camp Absence Finally Explained

Waller has missed several training camp practices in a row for the Raiders, which naturally causes concern. There’s been talk about him wanting a new contract so there was even speculation that he could be holding out. However, there’s finally more clarity on what ails him.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Waller has been held out of practice with a hamstring injury “that is not considered serious.”

Raiders’ TE Darren Waller has been held out of training camp due to a hamstring injury that is not considered serious, per source.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 12, 2022

This is good news for the Raiders as he remains one of their most important players despite the trade for Adams.

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