Is Josh Jacobs A Legitimate MVP Candidate?

Andrew Weidman
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs runs against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Josh Jacobs picked right up where right where he left off the 2019 season in a stunning 2020 debut; rushing 25 times for 93 yards and finding pay dirt three times, leading Las Vegas to a 34-30 win over the Carolina Panthers. His three touchdowns were the most by any back in week one, and if Jacobs can keep trending this way, he has a legitimate shot at winning MVP.

In the last two decades, there have been only four running backs to win MVP; Marshall Faulk in 2000, Shaun Alexander in 2005, LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006, and Adrian Peterson in 2012. To win MVP at any position is certainly a tough task, let’s look at what made those four backs able to bring home that coveted honor.

Marshall Faulk – 2000

In the 2000 season, Faulk led his team to a playoff berth, one year removed from a Superbowl ring; bringing in these stats…..

253 rushses, 1,359 yards, a league leading 18 rushing touchdowns to pair with 81 receptions, 830 yards, and eight touchdowns

Shaun Alexander – 2005

In the 2005 season, Alexander led his team to the Superbowl before dropping the game to the Steelers; finishing with…..

370 rushses, 1880 yards, and a then NFL record 27 touchdowns to pair with 15 receptions for 78 yards and one touchdown.

LaDainian Tomlinson – 2006

In the 2006 season, LT led his team to the #1 spot in the AFC, but ultimately lost in the first round; ending with…..

348 rushes, 1815 yards, and a now NFL record 28 touchdowns to pair with 56 receptions for 508 yards and three touchdowns.

Adrian Peterson –  2012

In the 2012 season, AP led the Vikings to a 10-6 record, improving from a 3-13 season, but lost to their rival Packers in the first round.

348 rushes, 2,097 yards (2nd in NFL history) with 12 touchdowns and 40 receptions for 217 yards and one touchdown 

Needless to say, Jacobs is going to need to have a historic year to win MVP. Through one game, he is on pace for 1,488 yards and 48 touchdowns.

Obviously, that second stat is completely farfetched, but the former is attainable. Jacobs needs 25 touchdowns to match LT’s record, meaning he needs to average 1.6 touchdowns on the ground per game. Sprinkle in some two or three touchdown games, and a few one touchdown games, and he has a legitimate shot.

The Raiders seem to have found their identity as a run first offense, and in the coming weeks, and it worked well in week one. Jacobs is a bonafide work-horse back, as evident of only surrending four rushing attempts to his backup, Devontae Booker.

A 1,500 – 1,700 yard season doesn’t seem that far off, and should help Jacobs make his case for MVP. The Raiders will also need to do well as a team and secure a playoff berth. Playing in a division with the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes doesn’t exactly make that easy; but either way, Jacobs is a man to watch this season, and has a legitimate shot to win MVP, and would be the first Raider to receive the honor since Rich Gannon in 2002.