Pushing the ball down the field and making big plays seems to be the key to the Raiders having any kind of success these days. But those big plays don't happen in a vacuum. To set up those plays, success running the ball is required. It keep the defense honest. And it's an area of the Raiders that hasn't been great of late.
Last Sunday against the Titans, Derek Carr threw for over 300 yards and the Raiders had two receivers go over 100 yards - Amari Cooper with 115 yards and Seth Roberts with 113 yards. Meanwhile, the run offense couldn't crack triple digits. It's the third game in a row the run game was under 100 yards and the week before they had just 52 yards on the ground. It's a problem.
"For us we want to be as efficient and productive as possible in all phases of what we do offensively," said Del Rio. "We weren't as efficient as we'd like to be. Certainly we go into games saying we'd like to throw it well, we'd like to run it well, we'd like to be really productive, score a lot of points. We threw it pretty well yesterday, we didn't run it as well as we'd like."
In the three games in which the team scored over 30 points a game - winning the first two and being losing a shootout in Pittsburgh - they rushed for over 100 yards in each game and averaging 127 yards per game. Their best rushing output of the season came in a win in Cleveland in week three with 155 yards on the ground.
In turn, the team's four lowest rushing outputs have all been losses. Last Sunday was tied for their fifth lowest rushing total of the season with the Lions game which was another loss. The difference is this time the passing game was able to do just enough to make up for it.
"We just didn't run it as well as we think we're capable of," Del Rio continued. "We've got some things to clean up. Usually when you don't run as well it usually comes down to the timing on a couple combinations blocks, whether you're hitting the hole just right, or whether we're finishing downfield with receivers - all the things you're praising when it goes well just weren't quite as good as we feel like we're capable of doing it and we've got to go back and refine that."
One obvious answer could be the absence of Rodney Hudson who has missed two of the past three games, and left part of the way through the other one after re-aggravating his sprained ankle. Del Rio said, while the team misses Hudson's presence on the line, that he doesn't see Bergstrom as being the issue.
Whatever the issue is, it has Latavius Murray averaging 2.4 yards per carry over the past two games which is nearly half his yards per carry over the first nine games of the season (4.7). And I can tell you from watching the game last Sunday, many of those run stops weren't mistakes made by the offensive line.
There were 30 rushing attempts in the game. Of those runs, 13 were stopped for 2 yards or fewer. Of those 13 attempts, 5 stuffs were given up by an offensive lineman. Of the other 8, 4 were missed blocks by a skill position player and the rest were either a poor read by the back, or just well defended.
The Raiders were considered one of the best blocking teams in the league a couple weeks ago. I doubt you can say that now.