When the Oakland Raiders drafted the speedy back out of Eastern Washington in the fourth round of the NFL draft, many fans were immediatley anxious to see what Taiwan Jones had to offer a team that already had one of the best runningback tandems in the NFL.
On Sunday, the fans finally got what they were looking for, albeit, after a long delay. Jones, who had been out with a hamstring injury up to this point, finally made his debut for the Silver and Black and did not disappoint. Jones finished the day with 13 touches for 81 yards, including a 22 yard touchdown run.
Throughout the night, Jones was putting his speed on display. It was clear that once he hit the open field, Jones had a second gear that no one else on the field could come close to replicating. The guy is just plain fast.
In fact, though Jones put up impressive numbers, two of his bigger plays were called back on penalties that really had nothing to do with his success on the play. Jones had a 15 yard run early in the game that was called back on a holding that took place away from the play. He also had a big catch and run where he showed off not only his speed, but his maneuverability, that was also called back for a holding that occurred away from the play.
The Raiders also gave some insight into how they are going to use Jones. Besides the run plays they gave him (most of which were designed to go to the outside so that he could use his speed to get around the corner) the Raiders targetted Jones on a number of pass plays which were designed to get Jones the ball in open space along a sideline.
It became clear pretty quickly that the Raiders plan on using Jones as a third down passing option, likley in screen plays or dump offs designed to get the young speedster the ball with room to run.
The Raiders already have a very strong backfield with starting runningback Darren McFadden and backup Michael Bush. Those two players together already created one of the more feared backfields in the NFL. Add to that a athletic talent like Taiwan Jones, and the Raiders could easily have the best running game in the NFL this season.