Coach Jack Del Rio has talked a lot about playing complementary football. He wants all three phases of the game, offense, defense, and special teams to complement each other. To get a better idea of how this works, we just have to look at the model of disfunction across the bay. The Niners do the opposite of playing complementary football. Coach Chip Kelly’s no-huddle offense often times puts their defense in bad positions by asking them to defend a higher number of plays and not giving them much rest. The Raiders have the ability to turn up the pace, but they do it selectively when they need to. They also know when they have to take chances on offense and when they don’t. Against the Jaguars, the offense executed well in the first half and built a nice lead before getting extremely conservative in the second half to protect their lead.
Derek Carr said after the game that the Jaguars were concerned with taking the deep pass away. They did this by playing variants of cover-3 on 19 of 38 passing plays. The Jaguars played a Nick Saban variant of Cover 3 called Rip or Liz.
The biggest difference between regular cover 3 and Rip/ Liz is that the defenders that normally play in the flats will run vertically with the #2 receivers if they run a seam route.
The coverage is effective at taking away the vertical routes but is susceptible to underneath routes such as hitches or curls. Michael Crabtree was able to win with underneath routes and helped to keep the offense in rhythm.
This images above are taken out of this clip. The Raiders are running a mirrored curl/ seam concept, which is a very effective play against this coverage. The corners have to get into their deep zones while the curl defenders have to run vertically with the seams. This leaves a lot of space for the outside receivers to work underneath. You can see that both Cooper and Crabtree are open. Carr does a good job of avoiding a free blitzer and makes a remarkably accurate throw to Crabtree on the run.
Half Time Throw
Last week, Carr threw an interception to Marcus Peters that changed the momentum of the game. You can read more about it here. The errant throw was caused by two factors, the rain and Carr not stepping up into pressure. Carr can’t control the weather, but he can control his pocket movements and he showed improvement.
Instead of throwing off his back foot right away like he did last week, Carr steps up into the pocket and throws a dime to Crabtree for the 56 yard pass. By stepping up, he creates momentum and is able to put his weight into the throw.
Complementary Second Half Offense
Part of playing “complementary” football is protecting your lead. The Raiders were up 14 points at halftime and the Jaguars never truly threatened the Raiders in the second half. The play calling got somewhat conservative in the second half. They passed the ball on 13 of 27 plays in second half, excluding the two kneel downs. However, four of those plays were screens and two of them were quick throws into the flat. The Raiders did not need to take unnecessary chances because this week they were able to rely on their defense. They have shown this season that they could rev up the offense when they need too though.
Best Run of the day
The Raiders run game returned. They rushed for 118 yards if we don’t include the punter’s 26 yard scamper. It wasn’t dominating, but it was effective and forced Jacksonville to keep an extra defender in the box. The Raiders most effective run of the day was an inside zone with a fullback lead. They ran zone lead five times for 24 yards for an average of 4.8 ypc.
Throw to Cooper
After Marquette King’s magnificent run, the Raiders lined up in a Wing Left formation with a tight Z and ran opposite zone four times in a row to put the final nail in the Jaguars’ coffin. Carr actually makes a check to Cooper for a fade on the third time that they ran opposite zone. The entire offense besides Carr and Cooper execute the run play and it resulted in an 18 yard completion.
It was third and two and the Raiders just ran for two consecutive four yard runs. The Raiders might have gotten the first down by running the ball but Carr opted to pass. That’s where his gun slinger personality influences the team. The team was in conservation mode, but Carr found a good spot to take a chance and the team was rewarded.
There are a lot of fans that want the Raiders offense to operate a break neck speed 100% of the time, but with a defensive-minded head coach in Jack Del Rio, that’s just not going to happen. With a very strong special teams unit and a defense that looks like it’s improving hopefully the Raiders can take less chances and play sound football or “complementary” football.