Derek Carr Taking Command
Derek Carr showed a firm command of the offense in his second year in the system. Last year the Raiders would often start the game under center and run the ball to try and establish some physicality. On the first play of the preseason, the Raiders started by going under center on what looked like a run play. However, Carr sees that the Cardinals defense loaded the box and audibles to a pass.
Carr changes the play so that Crabtree and Cooper are both running isolation routes on the outside. Crabtree runs a 15 yard out route and Carr hits him perfectly for the nice gain. Putting Crabtree on the out is the right call because the cornerback that is on him is playing so far inside that it would be tough for him to defend the out. Also, throwing away from Patrick Peterson is always a good idea.
The Raiders clearly want to work on utilizing the fade route against press man to man corners. This strategy makes a ton of sense considering how skilled Cooper is at beating press coverage. The only problem is Cooper is still showing trouble getting his feet in bounds.
Carr again shows his command of the field by throwing to Cooper after seeing the safety on Cooper’s side rotates into the box ensuring that he would have a 1 on 1 match up to the outside. Cooper shows his amazing footwork and creates a ton of separation. Carr throws a beautiful ball that could have been a little inside but Cooper definitely had a chance to tap that second foot in. Cooper also flat out drops a fade later in the game. Hopefully, these problems do not continue to plague Cooper in the regular season. He is way too talented.
Trying to mix it up in the run game
In the offseason, I talked about how the Raiders could vary their run game with new concepts and it seems as if they are trying to do just that by introducing some new runs that I did not see from them last season.
This is a tackle trap with Menelik Watson pulling to the left to trap the three technique defensive tackle, Calais Campbell. The offensive line executes the concept nicely and Latavius Murray does something we rarely saw last season by lowering his shouldering and falling forward. If the offense could see some of these new plays develop and Murray continues to lower his shoulder, the run game has hope for improvement.
Need to practice the back shoulder throw.
If there is going to be an emphasis on the fade route this year, Carr is going to have to add the back shoulder fade to his arsenal. We’ve all seen him throw it before, but we haven’t seem him throw it nearly enough.
This play isn’t a regular fade, it is a switch verticals concept. Before the snap, Murray tear motions out of the backfield. With no defender instantly following Murray out of the box, Carr recognizes that the defense is in quarters coverage, which this concept is perfect against. Crabtree comes from the outside into the seam and creates a pick for Marcel Reece running a wheel. The pick leaves Reece open but Carr hesitates and misses his window and eventually throws the ball away. Carr could have thrown a back shoulder throw to Reece before the safety eventually got to him. Carr certainly has the arm talent to complete these throws and he has to start completing some or continue to leave points on the field.
Deandre Washington in the Passing Game
Rookie Deandre Washington had quite the debut with eight carries for 45 yards. The rookie showed off his quick moves and broke some ankles, but what had me most excited was his 32 yard reception. Another answer against man to man defense is to take advantage of mismatch problems with your running back against slower linebackers. On his play, the linebacker had no chance against Washington, as he left him in the dust with some nifty route running. I expect Carr to take full advantage of Washington’s receiving abilities sooner rather than later.
Overall, the team showed that they are still young and still have some things to work out. They aren’t the veteran team that are going to light up the early parts of the preseason. The offense left some yards and points on the field but also showed their immense potential against a Super Bowl contender. Hopefully, they could work their kinks out before the season starts.