Some thoughts on Doug Martin's 3 Big Runs

Doug Martin is an emerging star and TB Offensive line is was very physical. The Bucs had a nice scheme that showed good scouting and that combined to give the Bucs a great day running the ball and to seemingly overmatch the hapless Raiders defense. But in reviewing those 3 big running plays/windsprints overall, it appears that the Raiders D actually played those 3 big runs pretty well!


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On each of 3 runs, the Raiders had closed the point of attack, but could not maintain gap discipline and so Martin found a cut-away lane (2 cutbacks, 1 cut-forward). But yes, there were generally multiple Raiders doing what they were supposed to and containing the run. There were plays to be made and the key players could not make the plays. As a unit they failed, but as the saying goes, "A Chain is only as strong as its weakest link."

McClain was solid taking on lead blockers as he has generally done all year, freeing up Burris and Wheeler to make plays. It's a thankless job, but it's led to big success. McClain did this again (most notably on the first 2 big runs), but on against TB, Wheeler was nowhere to be found, getting washed out sometimes as much as 5 yards away from the play (this was also due to Wheeler himself misreading the play and over-aggressively pursuing the wrong lane).

note : Lamar Houston was in position to make a play on Martin's first run (45), but TB C Larsen had an across-the-throat hold on him. Houston could have held him to a 5-8 yard gain.

On the second big run, Wheeler is in the running lane and gets pushed inside the hash AND is used as a human shield to screen off Burris. But the big fail on this was Pat Lee on the run fit. Rolando again takes on the lead blocker, RG #79 Meredith and holds up and forces Martin to the outside. Lee needed to hit that hole, but instead breaks down 2 yards deep and 2 yards inside; that's a bad run-fit that gives Martin the running lane to the outside.

If Wheeler holds up at all, there's a pileup in the hole. Everyone else does a good job clogging up the holes.

On the 70 yarder, Richard Seymour is cut blocked on the backside and is slow to get up. That's the first opening. Burris overpursues and gets blocked inside. That's the big gap. Tyvon Branch overcommits again and takes himself out of hte play. Tommy Kelly, Rolando, Wheeler all hold up on the playside and Lamar Houston beats his man to take away the initial lane. This chould have been a 3 yard loss if Seymour beats his block or recovers quickly. It could have been a 3 yard gain if Burris holds his backside gap discipline. It could have been a 20-30 yard gain if Branch plays disciplined and reads the play.

Now the point is that the Defense is a unit and has been playing very well together as a unit; they weren't giving up these types of opportunities to runners because they were being disciplined. The Bucs had a nice attack, though and they forced the issue and were able to put enough pressure on the defense to get small gaps. That small gap was just enough for Martin to explode thru. But while "You are what your record says you are" and by the same token, the Raiders' defense surrendered 247+ yards (TB had -20 yds rushing on their last 4 "run out the clock" plays and so the actual rush yards surrendered is more like 267) and that is what they are.

But much of this year is about what the Raiders WILL BE. This defense is still a work in progress (another item of note is the adjustment that the Bucs made on the Raiders' blitzes) and we're going to see some growing pains, but the solace to take from this is that this is correctable (for the most part). It is clear where the problem occurred it was minor. A couple of STEPS one way or the other by a couple of defenders and these big runs don't happen. Now, let's have a look and see what the Raiders' adjustment is against Baltimore. I have hope that we will see corrections and that the Raiders' run defense will show a major improvement next week.

On a side note here are the DL on each of the 3 big runs :

45 yard TD : Tollefson LDE, Houston LDT, Bryant RDT, Carter RDE

67 yard TD : Tollefson LDE, Houston LDT, Kelly RDT, Shaughnessy RDE

70 yard TD : Houston LDE, Kelly LDT, Seymour RDT, Shaughnessy RDE

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