Last season the Raiders didn't have a lot of offensive weapons. The one area that struggled the most through much of the season was the run game which put up historically low numbers.
Because of the struggles in the run game, then offensive coordinator Greg Olson relied on Derek Carr's arm more and more as the season went on. At one point in midseason, they completely gave up on running on third and short altogether.
The results were not great.
Not only was it a major reason the Raiders began the season 0-10, but it was a major contributor in Carr's low numbers such as his 5.5 yards per attempt average and his 38.37 QBR.
Jack Del Rio doesn't see those results as indicative of Derek Carr's potential, but he also knows the team can't put it all on his shoulders this season as they did last season.
"I think what I'm most excited about is getting in and not making it so much about Derek," Del Rio said at the league owners meetings Tuesday morning. "I thought it was all about Derek last year. We wanna be able to run the ball. We wanna play good defense. We wanna do the things that are necessary to help us be a good football team and I think as we do some of those things around him, he has a chance to really flourish.
"He's a real accurate guy. Moves the chains for us, take some of those shots down the field, distribute the ball. I think Derek has a huge upside so we're excited about getting to work with him. One thing about Derek, he's a tenacious worker from what I've gathered in the building. Just watching him, he's coming through now working out on his own, doing things on his own, just wants to get started. Of course we're limited in what we can do because of the CBA, but he's pushing to do everything possible right now and I'm excited about getting my hands on him.
"He's a guy that's showed he's got a real quick stroke, he's accurate, he's bright. He did some of the things that we're gonna wanna do, that Bill Musgrave brings with us, he did some of those things at Fresno [State] and so we're looking forward to getting going with him. But I think he's got a big upside."
Last season the Raiders had Carr drop back to pass at over a 2-1 ratio to designed runs. Only three times did they even approach a good balance of pass to run - vs the Chiefs in week 12 (39/27), vs the 49ers in week 14 (31/29), and vs the Bills in week 16 (39/32).
What do all those games have in common? Those were the three games the Raiders won last season. The only other game that season which had less than a 2/1 pass to run ratio was week 3 in New England (34/22), a game they very nearly tied late in the game.
It isn't as simple as ‘run the ball more and you win'. The Raiders could have run all day and still would have lost in most those games. It was when the run game was working, the team had a chance to win, so they ran it more. That takes pressure off of the quarterback which considering Derek Carr was as rookie, he could have really used that relief. He can still use that relief. Finding it could be make or break for this team.
Returning as the incumbent starter next season is Latavius Murray. The team also added Roy Helu Jr and Trent Richardson in free agency, hoping to improve from the duo of Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew last season.