In the last three weeks, the Raiders have played the #3 (KC), #4 (DEN), and #5 (GB) scoring defenses in the league. Aside from the Broncos game, they were able to easily move the ball up and down the field but miscues have cost them points. The Raiders are on the cusp of being an elite offense but they keep getting in their own way by making mental mistakes that young teams make.
Against the Packers, the Raiders racked up 372 yards but only scored two touchdowns and gave away two critical turnovers. My only gripe with Bill Musgrave’s game plan are the runs on second and long. The Raiders do not run the ball with enough efficiency to put themselves in third and manageable situations by running on second and long. Instead, they have almost always put themselves into third and long after doing so. However, Musgrave started exclusively passing on second long and the offense sustained more drives and was more aggressive after the first quarter. The Raiders made their share of big plays and actually showed growth but turnovers and missed opportunities cost them another win.
I’ve been talking about Carr’s problems throwing to the right outside due to his front shoulder and feet being in the wrong position but after further film review the protection to the right side of the line often get knocked too far back into the pocket, not allowing Carr line up his body and step up. On Carr’s two interceptions against the Packers, he wasn’t able to step into his throws causing misses that led into interceptions.
On the first interception, Carr makes the correct read but is unable to deliver the ball where it needs to be. The Packers disguise their cover 2 by stemming the safeties. The Raiders are running four verticals. Carr isn’t fooled by the Packers disguise and knows it’s cover-2. He reads the safety and makes the correct throw to Walford.
The Raiders use a man protection and is in the correct blocking scheme to handle to Packer’s defensive line slant and blitz. Murray picks up the linebacker blitz by #48, but instead of stepping into the block and sits back and gets driven back into Carr’s lap. Carr is unable to step into the throw and the ball is a few yards short and Micah Hyde (#33) who is suppose to play underneath the seam turns his head around right as the ball is coming and makes the easy interception.
Carr’s second interception is caused by the second rookie guard Jon Felliciano getting bull rushed into Carr’s throwing lane causing him to throw the ball high. Again, Carr makes the correct read on the play, as Seth Roberts is open but the ball sails over Roberts head into the waiting hands of Damarious Randall for the pick six.
Carr Settles in the Game
I am not totally absolving Carr for these picks because he should know if he cannot make the throw with the pressure in his face, he needs to move or escape the pocket. Raider fans should be encouraged though because he learned from his mistakes and made some great throws after his two interceptions.
The Packers are in a man/zone combination. They are playing a zone to the on Michael Crabtree (singled up to the bottom of the screen) and man to man on Amari Cooper and Seth Roberts (top of the screen). Carr’s progression on the play is going from Crabtree’s deep out to Roberts running a deep crosser and finally Cooper on a dig. Crabtree is open but again the right side of the line is pushed back and Carr can’t step into the throw. However, this time Carr moves on to his second progression, which looks open but again he can’t step into his throw. He maneuvers into the pocket and finds Cooper open. Cooper runs such a good route that his man falls down, leaving Cooper wide open.
In addition, to settling down in the pocket. Carr also changed a play into a QB sneak that kept a drive alive after realizing the defense did not have enough defenders in the middle of the field.
Carr also started using his legs to extend drives. He finished the game with four attempts for 42 yards. With all the man to man coverage the Raiders have been seeing, Carr could force defensive adjustments by running either to extend plays or for yardage.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the Raider attempted a healthy amount of “shot” plays and actually connected on six passes of more than 15 yards (not including screen to Reece) and nearly missing on several other deep passes. The only two Raider touchdowns came on shot plays.
The first touchdown against the Packer’s cover-2. The Raiders run a classic cover-2 beater concept with a smash combination. Before the snap, Lee Smith motions over to hook the edge player, so Carr could take a half roll-out. The roll-out does two things: protects the right side of the line because they have to chase instead of bull rushing and gives Carr a better passing lane for outside breaking routes. The deep out route (in yellow) holds the corner who is responsible for the flat area. With the corner sitting on the out, the safety is essentially one on one with Cooper, who makes an absolutely devastating cut to the corner and easily beats the safety for a touchdown.
On Cooper’s second touchdown, the Packers are playing a man to man concept on his side and simply beats his man for the touchdown. It also helps when the middle of the field safety, who is suppose to have deep help gets caught stemming and can’t recover to make a play on the ball.
Areas for Improvement
Back Shoulder Fades
Carr’s rookie teammates call him “Baby A-rod” because Carr has a lot of the same skills that make Aaron Rodgers great, but Aaron Rodger is probably the best in the league at throwing the back shoulder fade and Carr hasn’t thrown the pass with enough consistency. Against all the man coverage that the Raider’s face, the back shoulder fade could be a welcome addition the Raiders arsenal.
Drops continue to plague the Raiders. In the first quarter, Carr does a great job going through his progression and moving in the pocket and makes an amazing throw to Roberts off his back foot into the end zone, but Roberts drops it forcing the Raiders to kick a field goal.
Andre Holmes also dropped a couple of critical passes in the fourth quarter.
Fourth Quarter Woes Continue
The Raiders were once again held scoreless in the fourth quarter. The stalled drives were a result of poor pass protection, a dropped pass, and time running out. For various reasons, the Raiders can’t put it all together in the fourth quarter against good teams this season. If they are going to take the next step as a team, the emphasis in the offseason has to be to finish strong.
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