The last time the Raiders played the Chiefs, Derek Carr threw three fourth quarter interceptions that put the game out of reach. It seems that those interceptions were still looming in Carr’s head because he was extremely hesitant to pull the trigger in the Raiders second game against the Cheifs. Receivers were open– granted, they would have been tight-window throws–but they are throws that Carr has routinely made in the past.
Carr’s lone interception of the game came on a mirrored smash concept.
Carr looks to his right first because the corner is lined up only 5 yards deep, which means there might be space for the slot receiver to get open on a corner. This is the correct progression because the corner route is open. If Carr threw it on time and up the field, it would have been an easy completion. Instead, he looks to the left of the field and both routes are open, but he still doesn’t pull the trigger. On mirror concepts, it is not typical to go from one side to the other, because you don’t want to hit timing routes late. However, both receivers are open and Carr elects not to throw it to neither. He does a nice job of escaping the pocket and Cooper breaks open again, but Carr under throws the ball and the ball is picked off.
In the fourth quarter, the Raiders were down by 13 points and desperately needed a big play. Musgrave called a shot play with Roberts running a post and go.
On the play, the offensive line gives Carr good time. He should have seen that Roberts was even with the corner, anticipate that Roberts is going to get open, and throw the ball before or during Robert’s break, but instead Carr was hesitant and was sacked instead.
If Carr, trusted what he saw and let go of the ball on time, he might have had two more touchdown passes. He seemed gun-shy for most of the game. Carr is not a game manager, he is a play-maker and he has to be able to find a way to minimize his mistakes, while not losing too much of his aggressiveness.
Chiefs were ready for Raider’s RPO
The Raiders had success with run/pass options (RPOs) in their first meeting with the Chiefs, which I broke down here.
In the first game, the RPO the Raiders used the most was this concept. The run concept could either be an inside zone (without QB run option) or zone read (with QB run option) depending on how many people are in the box. This is combined with a bubble screen that Carr can throw if the likes the numbers he has on the outside pre-snap. They ran the play with a lot of success, as they consistently gained good yardage whenever they ran it.
The Chiefs were ready for the Raiders RPO concepts and defended them much better in week 17. Before the snap, both defenders at the bottom of the screen are backed up. The defender’s depth does two things. First, it shows Carr a favorable look to throw the bubble screen. Second, it allows Peters to trick Rivera, who is the blocker on the bubble screen, into blocking the safety instead of him. Rivera’s assignment is to block the most dangerous defender, which he thinks is the safety based on where Peters is lined up. However, Peter creeps up right before the ball is snapped and Rivera doesn’t see him and is able to blow up the play.
This played seemed to discourage Musgraves from calling a lot of RPOs and the Raiders run game suffered greatly from not using these concepts. Next year, the Raiders have to have anticipate how teams will defend RPOs and have counters to protect their concepts.
How the Raiders score their only offensive touchdown
The Raiders scored their only offensive touchdown with a bit of ingenuity and a bit of luck. The ingenuity part came when the set up a big pass interference call.
The play is a simple rub concept with Cooper on the outside running an in-breaking “route” to create a rub for Chief’s safety, Ron Parker, who is guarding Roberts in the slot. Roberts runs a shoot but Parker comes downhill hard to avoid the rub and makes a tackle for a short gain. The play seems insignificant until…
A few plays later, the Raiders give a similar look, but instead of running a shoot, Roberts breaks outside and then spins upfield. Once again, Parker takes a hard downhill angle but cannot redirect his hips in time to defend Roberts running down the sideline. He grabs onto him and is flagged for pass interference.
On the touchdown pass, the Raiders are running a concept called “Sail”, which you read more about here. Crabtree’s fade route is called an “alert” which means the quarterback will only peak to see if the route is open or not and then look to his regular progression. Marcus Peters is the corner that is on Crabtree. With how far Peters is lined up and his dominate position on Crabtree during the play, Carr should have quickly taken his eyes off the alert route. In fact, there is a middle linebacker blitz that Carr should have seen and he should have thrown hot to Cooper running a dig to the top of the screen. But I believe this was a premeditated throw that Carr and Crabtree discussed in the huddle. According to the the team website, Crabtree said after the game”I was just tired of the No. 22 (Peters) talking noise like he was that great…So, we just went deep on him for six.”
Overall, injuries really hurt the Raider’s chances to do well against an elite defense. The banged up offensive line did well for the most part put began wearing down as the game went on. A lot of the sacks were coverage sacks, as Cooper snuggled to move with his injury. When receivers were open, Carr didn’t pull the trigger. It was a lackluster offensive outing to finish the season, but there is still plenty to look forward to next season.
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