Derek Carr said in an interview with CSN’s Scott Blair that he was happy with how the offense is moving the ball, but they are leaving points on the field. Considering that they are the number three scoring offense in the league, that’s a pretty scary proposition for the rest of the league. Watching the film, it is clear that he is right. This offense has the talent to finish number one in all major offensive categories by the end of the season, but they need to start faster.
People complained that Carr was checking down the ball too much, but the Atlanta defense is designed to give away the check down. As I talked about before the game, the Falcon’s underneath defenders drop back very quickly into the intermediate areas of the field. This leaves check down passes wide open. The problem in the first couple of drives was that Carr went to his check down late.
On this first two Raider drives, the offense could have extended their drives if Carr hit his check down while the defense is dropping back it rather than after they dropped back and are in better position to rally up and make a tackle.
This play came on the first drive of the game on a third and five. You could see the defenders backpedaling. If the play was designed to get Clive Walford the ball right away, he had a much better chance of picking up the first down than when the defenders are settled in their zone and Walford is moving laterally. Also, a better strategy would be to get the ball short to better playmakers like Richard or Washington. However, this problem did get corrected later in the game and the offense got moving.
In addition, the run game did not pick up until the second half. The Raiders also had an opportunity to score at the end of the half, but Janokoski could not convert on a long field goal attempt that could have been much closer if it wasn’t for a Clive Walford drop.
The running game did get stronger in the second half though as the Raiders went over 150 yard rushing for a second consecutive game. Obviously, the revamped offensive line has a lot to do with the improved run game, but Latavius Murray has looked like a different running back so far. I was as critical of Murray as anyone, but he has certainly proved me wrong this season. It is a contract year for him and now he has other backs to give him rest and competition and he has responded by running like a mad man.
The Raiders run a counter trey concept with two blockers pulling from the backside. Murray does a nice job of being patient and setting up his blockers. Olawale, who had an excellent game as a blocker, lays out a defender. Murray gets inside of Olawale’s block only to have to adjust to Gabe Jackson’s block before recognizing that he could take the edge. Murray displayed some great vision and cutting ability on this play that we rarely saw last year.
Murray is a better gap-scheme runner than he is a zone runner, so it is encouraging to see the Raiders running counter trey with some success and adding to the run game arsenal. They ran the counter trey a total of five times for 34 yards (6.8 avg).
On Murray’s first touchdown, the Raiders run an interesting concept with the play side guard (Osemele) pulling and kicking out the defensive end. The key for this play working is Hudson’s reach block on the 1-tech. Since Osemele is pulling, it is absolute essential that Hudson makes this block and he does it perfectly. Olawale leads through the hole and again Murray runs violently to finish for the touchdown.
Walford’s touchdown came on one the Raiders favorite passing concept: Switch Verticals. This was a great call against the Flacons cover 3 coverage. Amari Cooper is lined up wide to the offensive left and runs into the seam area, while Walford wheels out the sideline. The running back swing also sucks up the underneath coverage. The cornerback, Marcus Trufant, opens up his hips towards Cooper going inside and cannot recover in time to cover Walford. Carr had trouble hitting Walford on this play during the preseason but hits him perfectly here.
Crabtree’s touchdown came on an excellent pick concept. I’ve been begging the Raiders to help our receivers out with more of these concepts, so it’s nice seeing them run one for a touchdown. The Raiders are in a trips formation to the offensive right. Usually Walford is the number 3 receiver (receiver closest to the quarterback) but in this formation he lines up as the number 2 (in the middle) to get a bigger body to create a pick. Crabtree runs underneath Walford and the defender guarding him is forced to go around Walford. This creates too much space and Crabtree gets open for the touchdown.
Carr Forcing Pass
As well as Carr has played, he still has his flaws. His gun slinger mentality takes over at times at he still forces passes. He hasn’t done it much this season or at all, but this pass had no business of being thrown. The linebackers did not fall for the play action and dropped back. If Carr, waited half a second longer his check down would have been wide open.
But of course with his gun slinger mentality also treats us with some pretty amazing throws. His final touchdown pass was an example of that. Yes, he probably could have hit Walford on a drag route, but it’s just not as cool as this: