The Oakland Raiders want to be a run first team on offense. However with new offense coordinator Greg Knapp, they have been unable to get consistent production on the ground. As the team travels to the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday, they will try to find a balance on offense they can use the rest of the season and establish their identity as an offense.
Because of the amount of games the Raiders have trailed during this season, the team has been forced to rely more on the pass. They have been very successful throwing for 273.2 passing yards per game, which is good for 9th in the NFL. In the running game they have struggled mightily, ranking 31st in the NFL. Credit Knapp for never abandoning the run, but the players must execute better in that phase of the offense and Knapp must tweak the scheme to better suit running back Darren McFadden. It is no secret that teams want to stack the box against McFadden to take away the run because he is one of the most dangerous running backs in the league. The Raiders must find a way to call plays that will use his immense talent and jumpstart the rushing attack.
“The first thing is to run the football and be more effective running the ball,” Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said. “We have to do that and we know that. It starts with me and my tracks and getting the ball to the back deep enough. It then goes to the offensive line giving Darren chances and Darren making his reads and receivers blocking down field.”
Palmer has played very well this season, despite a few bad decisions that resulted in turnovers. He has already thrown for 1732 yards while completing 61.4 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He has excelled in the no-huddle offense when the Raiders have used it to come from behind. Because Oakland has been successful in the no-huddle on several occasions this season, many believe the team should use it exclusively or at least much more. However, the team maintains they will keep it a part of the offense, but don't want to make it their offensive identity. The problem with running the no-huddle as the primary offensive scheme is you have limited formations because you don't substitute. The basis of the offense is to tire out the defense by pushing the pace and not allow the opposition to make substitutions, but the offense can't bring in different personnel either. If they do the defense can make their own substitutions.
“No,” Palmer said of running the no-huddle all the time. “If that is all you are going to come in the game with then you completely limit yourself to personnel groups, to formations, protections, red zone, third down. backed up. It is not feasible. It is a good change up. It is a good change of pace thing for us and it gets us out of a rut every once in a while and it also keeps the defense on their toes and keeps the defense preparing for it, but it is not something that you can just run all the time.”
On Sunday, the Raiders will face a Chiefs defense that is better against the pass than they are against the run. As a defense, the Chiefs are giving up just 224.5 yards per game passing, which is 13th in the NFL. Against the run, the defense allowed 125 yards per game, which is 22nd in the NFL. The Chiefs have six defensive starters who were drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. Three of those players, defensive ends Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson as well as strong safety Eric Berry were taken in the top five. Linebacker Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson as well as nose tackle Dontari Poe were the other drafted in the first round.
“I think Coach said there are six first-round draft picks, a handful of guys that have been to the Pro Bowl and four guys drafted in the top five or 10 picks,” Palmer said of the Chiefs defense. “So it’s a very gifted group and very talented group that’s desperate for a win coming off a bye.”
Former Oakland Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt, who was released by the Raiders after last season, will start for the Chiefs. During his seven years in Oakland, Routt started 53 games and intercepted 10 passes. He is joined in the secondary by cornerback Brandon Flowers, strong safety Eric Berry, and free safety Kendrik Lewis. Routt, Flowers and Berry were all taken in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. They are a very talented unit.
“Like I said, they’ve got Eric Berry back there,” Palmer said. “Flowers is a really good physical corner and Stanford can run with just about anybody in the league. It is a good group all around.”
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