Oakland Raiders vs Minnesota Vikings: Keys For Raiders Offense!
John Doublin – Nov 16, 2011As the first place Oakland Raiders prepare to travel to the great, white north to take on the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, they do so with some concernsâ€”not the least of which are injuries.
Oakland's best offensive weapon, Darren McFadden and wide receiver Jacoby Ford are nursing foot injuries. Neither player has practiced thus far this week. While Michael Bush and Denarius Moore continue to fill in extremely well, the bigger concern for the Raiders may be taking their inconsistent run defense up against running back Adrian Peterson.
All valid concerns, but all can be overcome. The Raiders have the talent and the depth to beat the struggling, rookie-led Vikings with or without these two great offensive weapons. How, you ask? Let's have a look.
Rushing Attackâ€”The Vikings are ranked sixth against the run, allowing a paltry 3.7 yards per carry and less than 100 yards per game. However, in order for Oakland's offense to be effective, they must run the ball anyway.
If McFadden does miss this game, (as most believe he will) Bush will be required to carry the load. Bush is a big, powerful back that can break tacklesâ€”and the opponent's will. The offensive line of the Raiders will need to get Bush past the formidable Vikings defensive line with a mix of power and trickery.
If the Raiders' tackles, Jared Veldheer and Khalif Barnes can just "Hinge out," allowing the defensive ends to go up field, the guards and center can double team on the play side defensive tackle, the fullback can take on the play side linebacker and a sprint draw or a delay will break wide open.
Once into the second level, Bush must lower his pad level and punish the linebackers and safeties when they try to tackle him. This will wear out the defense and open huge holes for standard power run plays.
Another way to run the ball effectively is to change the pace with speedy rookie Taiwan Jones. In limited action against San Diego, Jones looked pretty good. The Raiders should test the edges of the Vikings' defense by running sweeps and toss plays to Jones. This will make the Vikings' linebackers have to think before they react. If Oakland runs between the tackles all day, the Vikings can key on it and stop it cold.
Besides, if Jones can get free just once, it could mean six points for the Raiders.
Passing Attackâ€”This game will provide the perfect opportunity for Carson Palmer to show Raider Nation that their team is in good hands. The Vikings are ranked just 30th against the pass, allowing 272 yards per game.
For Palmer to take advantage of this weakness, the offensive line will need to play well. As stated before, Allen and Robison are great pass rushers, but that's not where the threat ends. The Vikings' interior linemen, Remi Ayodele and Kevin Williams can push the pocket up the middle extremely well too.
Raiders' center Samson Satele left the Chargers' game with a knee injury, but has returned to limited practice this week. Assuming he plays, he and the guards Stefen Wisnewski and Cooper Carlisle will play a critical role for the Raiders.
Controlling the middle of the line of scrimmage will allow Palmer the liberty to step up in the pocket if he needs toâ€”with Allen and Robison rushing from the ends, it's likely he's going to need it more than once.
The screen game can be a useful tool as well. The screens Oakland ran against the Chargers were extremely successful and will go a long way to slowing the Vikings' pass rush as well. Also, using Marcel Reece as the third down back gives the Vikings one more thing to think about. Reece can run the ball fairly well, and is a beast in the passing game. Why not get him the ball on swings and screens too?
The more head coach Hue Jackson does to slow the pass rush will help the Raiders succeed.
One more thing: It's time to get Kevin Boss involved in the game! Every time he's been targeted, he's made the play. Hitting him on the short, "typical tight end routes" will occupy the safeties and the linebackers. This will only help to get the wide receivers open deep.
The Vikings are hurting in the secondaryâ€”badly! Antoine Winfield is on injured reserve, and their other starting cornerback, Chris Cook is also out for something listed as "not injury related" and will miss this game.
The Oakland receivers will be open. The only question is: Will Palmer have enough time and room to step into his throws to get them the ball?
Sustain Intensityâ€”The Raiders' veterans need to keep the team fired up all day long. Palmer, Bush, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Barnes and Carlisle must all act as cheerleaders on the field to keep the Raiders from having a let down in the second half.
Oakland did a much better job against San Diego last Thursday than they have in the recent past, but too much is never enough.
Finallyâ€”Hue Jackson cannot be afraid to make adjustments at half time. Just because something is working early, doesn't mean it will work late. There must be a plan of, "If this begins to fail, we'll go to this. If that doesn't work, we'll have that." Perfecting "Plan-A" is great, but there must be "Plans-B,C and D."
This is a game the Raiders should win. As the old cliche' goes, "Good teams win the games their supposed to win." This is what the Raiders should, can and will do.
Follow us on Twitter: @CoachJayDee, @RNTimes. On FaceBook-Raider Nation Times.
Like Raider Nation Times
How Would You Grade the Raiders Live Mock Draft?