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Josh Jacobs, Raiders’ running game stuck in neutral

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Josh Jacobs isn’t ready for the sting of a 38-10 loss Sunday to the Buffalo Bills to dissipate. Not with the Pittsburgh Steelers next on the schedule.

Not while the Raiders’ rushing offense is in tatters.

“We need to address where (it) went wrong, improve from there,” the All-Pro running back and reigning NFL rushing champion said.

“I don’t think we need to (say), ‘All right next game’ and flush it,” he added. “I don’t think that would create a winning culture.”

After missing most of training camp amid contract negotiations, Jacobs hasn’t found his footing and the Raiders are struggling to run the football, generating 55 yards on 15 carries for an average of 3.7 yards per carry in their loss at Highmark Stadium.

Speedy rookie wideout Tre Tucker gained 34 of those yards on a jet sweep, and second-year running back Zamir White gained 22 yards on four carries late in the game, leaving quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with a carry for a yard and Jacobs with nine for minus-2 yards.

Not since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970 has a defending rushing champion finished a game with negative yardage.

He has 28 carries for 46 yards after two games.

He had 1,653 rushing yards last season, averaging a career-high 4.9 yards per carry.

“I feel like I’ve just got to do more,” Jacobs said dejectedly. “Got to do more. You know what I’m saying? Create plays when it’s there and make the guys (on the offensive line) right, even if they mess up on a play.”

Jacobs had 19 carries in the opener at Denver, totaling 48 yards in a 17-16 victory in a deviation from the dominance he often experienced last season. The Broncos’ defensive front overpowered the Raiders when they ran the ball, but not as bad as Buffalo’s did.

Penetration often seeped into their backfield before Garoppolo could hand Jacobs the ball, leaving him to dance with a gaggle of defenders well positioned to tackle him in his tracks.

Without the balance the Raiders have grown accustomed to, their offense becomes stale and predictable.

Said Bills safety Jordan Poyer, acknowledging that Buffalo planned to stop the Raiders’ rushing offense: “We felt like if we got ahead of them and were able to stop the run, that we get them in a pass-situation-type game, we’d be able to feast. And we did.”

Raiders coach Josh McDaniels did not diagnose the problems with the rushing offense, explaining that “once you lose control of the line of scrimmage, it’s difficult to have control of the game.”

Kolton Miller, among the NFL’s top left tackles, acknowledged that he expects opponents to continue to attack the Raiders’ rushing offense.

The onus is on the Raiders to make them pay.

“They challenged us. They’re going to keep challenging us,” Miller said. “We’ve just got to keep pushing. More. More. We’ve got to press more into it.”

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on X.

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