Oakland Raiders: Five Things to Improve the Offense Even More
John Doublin – Oct 5, 2011This article was supposed to be titled, "Oakland Raiders: Five Offensive Players Who Must Perform Better" but honestly, five offensive under-performers couldn't be found! Therefore, this article will focus on five things, (in general) the offense can do to be even better than they already are.
Of course there are players that could play better, but only a few. The one group of men that can improve this offense the most are the coaches. Head coach Hue Jackson, offensive coordinator Al Saunders, wide receiver coach Sanjay Lal, tight end coach Adam Henry, running back coach Kelly Skipper and offensive line coaches Bob Wiley and Steve Wisniewski.
These are the men that can make the biggest difference in the offense of the Raiders.
In the NFL, when a team knows what you're going to do, more often than not, they're going to figure out a way to stop it. Now, it's pretty clear that coach Jackson isn't afraid to call gadget and trick plays, but it must go beyond that.
Why not have Darren McFadden and Michael Bush in the back field at the same time? Which running back would the opponent key on? They can't key on both. Why not line up with three tight ends and go deep? The Raiders drafted Richard Gordon and converted David Ausberry; they kept four tight ends. Why do all that if you're not going to use them?
This is an area that is improved over recent years, but still isn't where it needs to be. Last week the Patriots held the Raiders to just two scores on five attempts in the redzone. That is not going to get it done in the NFL.
On one particular occasion, Jason Campbell tried to throw the ball away, but failed to execute and threw the ball right to Patriots' defensive back Patrick Chung. While that isn't excusable, my question is, "you have Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Why aren't you running the ball from the six yard line?"
This falls directly on the shoulders of coach Jackson. When in the redzone, Jackson should allow the team to do what they do best-pound the rock.
3. Limit drive-killing penalties:
This year, offensive penalties such as false start, illegal formation and holding are way down for Oakland, but there is still some room to improve. On the Raiders' opening drive last week, Jared Veldeer was called for illegal block in the back. That penalty killed Oakland's momentum and turned what would have been a touchdown into a field goal.
This is something that cannot be taken lightly or "swept under the carpet." Coach Jackson and the rest of the offensive staff must address this topic in meetings and on the practice field.
4. Stick to doing what you do best:
When the Raiders got behind last week they gave up on the run game. McFadden only carried the ball 14 times-that is not who the Raiders are. Jackson was quoted as saying, "we got behind...we needed 'chunk plays.'" McFadden already had a 40 yard run from scrimmage earlier in that game, so it seems to me, (and most of Raider Nation) that the Raiders can get the "chunk plays" Jackson was referring to from the running game. Why not just stick to it?
When Oakland gets behind, they need to continue to run the ball and keep the defense honest. The pressure on Campbell didn't begin until the Patriots knew that Jackson had given up on the run. After that, they were able to "pin their ears back" and get after the quarterback.
With the personnel on the Raiders, they need to play with the lead and shorten the game by running the ball.
5. Don't be afraid to go deep more often:
Raider Nation has witnessed the emergence of rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore, the improvement of Darius Heyward-Bey and the return of Chaz Schilens. What fans haven't seen is coach Jackson calling enough deep plays. Now, I'm not suggesting that the Raiders switch to the "Run-and-shoot" and become like the 1991 Houston Oilers, but the Raiders are stacked with speed at wide receiver, why not use it?
Give the young players on the outside a chance to use their speed to get down field, their athleticism to out-jump the defender, and their will to fight for the ball and make a play.
Going deep once or twice in a game is not enough. Jackson and Saunders need to take advantage of all the speed Al Davis has acquired for this team.
The Oakland Raiders are a team of contradiction. They won a game against the Jets in which they failed to convert at all on third down, then turn around the next week and convert eight of 13 third downs, out-gain their opponent by almost 100 yards and put up over 500 yards of total offense, but lose.
In short: "inconsistency" is the word that best describes the Raiders offense. The fact is they beat themselves.
The five things I covered in this article are only part of what Oakland can do to improve offensively, but they are a great start. Raider Nation will be looking for the Raiders' offense to eliminate the penalties and stop beating themselves. If coach Jackson and the Raiders want to make-good on their promise of a champion, they can start with these five things.
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