Chip Kelly may have been the best thing to happen to the Raiders in quite some time. Bill Lazor brought Kelly concepts with him to Miami and led the Dolphins to that disastrous 38 - 14 win over the Raiders that led to Dennis Allen's termination. A year later, Bill Musgrave brings Kelly's concepts to the Raiders' offense.
The WR screens that were once the bane of the Raiders' existence are now a fundamental part of the offense. In the Post-Bye Week 8 game against the Chargers, there were some noticeable adjustments and improvements to the WR Screen (Details here) and in Week 9 against the Jets, there are continued tweaks. Musgrave is clearly still figuring out how the play works and what aspects can be modified for success; he's also experimenting with personnel, figuring out which of the many Raiders playmakers are suitable to make the most out of this play.
It is strange to say after scorign 8 TDs in 2 weeks, but the Raiders' offense has not yet arrived; it is still a Work-in-Progress.
Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree have both had their turns. This time, Marcel Reece gets a turn.
Play 31 : Q2, 1-10-OAK 35 (5:02) (Shotgun) D.Carr pass short left to M.Reece to 50 for 15 yards (D.Davis).
Raiders are in 21 Personnel, 2 RBs (Murray and Reece), 1 TE (Smith), and 2 WRs (Roberts, Holmes).
Carr is in shotgun with Murray to his left.
Previously, the Cooper and Crabtree screens were run from a bunch formation, but on this play Reece splits wide left while Roberts and Holmes are to the right. Not the same at all.
Then Roberts motion across the formation to give 2 WRs to the left .
From this formation, the Raiders will execute the exact same action as previously.
First, the Raiders will show run action with Murray showing an inside handoff and Gabe Jackson pulling as if running a G-Power play.
This action combined with the effectiveness of the running game draws the Jets' front 7 upfield.
This vacates the middle of the field as well as drawing the defense away from the screen action.
Marcel Reece gives an initial downfield action, but then plants and then draws back and towards the QB. Roberts crashes out and blocks Reece's defender.
Meanwhile, the entire offensive line (except Jackson, naturally) and TE Lee Smith release from their blocks and races laterally and then downfield to set up a wall for Reece.
The play unfolds to plan. The Jets defenders have committed to attacking upfield and are leaving lots of empty field behind them.
As Reece receives the ball, there are up to 6 blockers running out in front of him. It's the definition of a "convoy." If he can just get up and behind these guys, there's a lot of room to run.
But there's just a little snag.
The throw unfortunately is a little bit off. It's low and away from Reece, forcing the him to slow up and reach down for the ball before he can turn upfield. This disrupts the timing and also alters Reece's upfield cut.
If the ball were thrown into Reece's chest and with good pace, Reece could plant, catch, and then cut right upfield, just behind Donald Penn's kick out block.
But with the ball where it is, Reece has to go get the ball, which results in a more rounded catch and turn. He's a little bit late as it is and now his route is not as direct as desired; his curved route brings him back towards the pursuit a bit as well as forcing Seth Roberts to maintain his block much longer and at a more difficult angle.
The timing is off and the route is rounded and so there is better pursuit than on the drawing board.
And then Marcel Reece puts some work in. He's not a skinny WR; he's a thick FB and has very good running instincts and strength, so he's pretty comfortable running in traffic and working against prospective tacklers. The Jets defense looks like they are getting back into the play, but Reece's running extends it and results in a nice 15 yard gain.
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There were a number of interesting things occuring here as Musgrave continues to tweak the screen play.
But the major part that inhibited some of the potential of the play was Derek Carr's throw. Here's a closer look at Carr on the play
The Jets get quick, immediate pressure into the backfield with 2 rushers coming totally free. Carr wants to the get ball out quickly and on target, but he glimpses two flashes of White right in front of him.
As a result, he falls away from the pressure which takes some pace off that throw.
Carr does have a little bit more time and space than he thinks he does; the defenders are a touch short and are also deciding between chasing Murray and attacking Carr upfield.
If Carr could have stood a little bit bolder here and made the strong throw to Reece, the play could have had a bit more success.
This WR screen is turning into a mainstay in this offense. With the playmakers available on this team (Taiwan's turn must be coming soon, right?), this may become a Bread-and-Butter play for this offense. So perfecting the execution is going to be important as the defenses adjust to it.
Carr does a lot of things really well right now and he's growing into what the Raider Nation has been dreaming of for a long time. One of his areas for improvement right now is highlighted here; he can sometimes hurry his throws and bail from pressure a little, which can result in slightly off-target throws.
Carr's continued improvement in this area will go a long way to helping his receivers turn short gains into longer ones and to turn this Screen play into a consistently devasting one.