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Quick hits: Notes, analysis on Raiders offense in week 9 win over Broncos

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Quick thoughts and insights on the offensive performance of the week 9 victory over denver.

Note : click on GIFs to get full res GFYs

Derek's command

  • Often he starts a game a little over-excited, but this time he was locked in from the first whistle.
  • He's stepping up in the pocket. He didn't do this much against the Broncos in the past, perhaps because of the violence and pressure in the middle. This time, he did and good things happen when he does so.
  • Denver misses Malik Jackson. His combination of penetration, sense of passing lanes, and long arms gave Derek problems last year. The replacement's not nearly the same.
  • Carr missed a few throws or was just a bit off. The near-Int is the most obvious, but also the fade to Johnny Holton, the crosser to Michael Crabtree, the near-TD to Clive Walford, and a few others. Just a bit off or mistimed. Seemed just not quite as sharp as he could (will) be.
  • Use of his cadence was improved. Was able to affect the Broncos pass rush just a bit. They weren't able to time him up as well as in the past and a few key offsides penalties were nice.
  • Notice how sometimes he would hold the line and you could almost feel the Denver pass rushers frustrated that the snap was not conveniently forthcoming. Big step forward to Derek controlling the game. Note, also key to this is the play being sent in quickly to Derek has the time at the line.
  • Raiders OL is getting used to how Derek holds them at the line. Fewer false starts.
  • I think Derek may have changed the play at the line when he made the near Int. He's very aggressive and may have really liked what he thought he saw available.

An Adjustment (Did you notice this?)

  • 1st quarter Empty backfield v the Zero Blitz. On the in / fade combo, Derek throws to Seth underneath while Amari wanted the ball deep :

  • 4th quarter Empty backfield v the Zero Blitz. On the in / fade combo, Derek goes deep to Johnny Holton :

Fly Zone

  • This game will be remembered as the "Meat Grinder Game", but the efficient passing game was crucial to the offense being able to control the ball
  • 30 1st Downs, 11 rushing, 12 passing, 7 by penalty
  • 6 penalties for 68 yards (3 in or just outside the endzone) on the Denver secondary

  • Stats were mediocre, in fact Trevor Siemian's stats were better than Derek's.
    • Siemian : 18/37, 283 yards, 2 TDs, 1 int, 81.2 passer rating
    • Carr : 20/31, 184 yards, 0 TDs, 0 int, 80.6 passer rating
  • Al Davis famously stated "It's not important that you play well; it's important that we win." (Though Derek Carr really did play well. Stats do not tell the story.)
  • Defensive secondary penalties (PI and def holding) were all smart plays, saved TD's in most cases.
  • Denver definitely missed Aqib Talib
  • Even in this case, I was still impressed with some aspects of Denver's secondary. Such great tacklers and so aggressive.
  • Bradley Roby's make up speed is impressive and Chris Harris's game sense is pretty incredible.
  • There were several occasions where they did lock down the coverage and Derek had nowhere to go
  • Even without Talib, this secondary could suffocate passing attacks without an elite receiver. Fortunately, the Raiders have one.
  • The fact that this Denver defense is so good makes it so gratifying to defeat them.
  • Derek clearly respected them. A few times, Derek threw the ball a little bit long rather than risk the int. In one case, Crabtree could have had a PI in the endzone, except the pass was too far (ruled "uncatchable"). Safe play was the right play, but slightly disappointing.

Amari Cooper

  • Is growing into an uncoverable receiver.
  • When he gets a free release he can make the CB's do some odd things.
  • Amari had 3 potential TD's negated by penalty. The two obvious ones and then this one:

  • Added the Pivot route to his arsenal. DB's watching tape are not going to be happy about that.
  • AC/DC connection continues to improve.
  • Would love to see him matched up with Talib and think it would be great for his continued development
  • Best on best is going to be fun to watch

Denver Kirkland

  • 6'4", 335 lbs
  • 34 5/8" arm length
  • Undrafted rookie from University of Arkansas
  • The one good thing that came of Lee Smith's injury was the emergence of Denver Kirkland as a blocking TE
  • Kirkland wouldn't be getting this (much) playing time if Lee Smith were healthy
  • He's starting to look comfortable in the role
  • Has very heavy hands

  • Plays aggressive and thru the end of the whistle
  • Keeps fighting
  • Had a nice pass protection play v Von Miller

Offensive Line

"This thing all things devours:

Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;

Gnaws iron, bites steel;

Grinds hard stones to meal;

Slays king, ruins town,

And beats high mountain down."

(J.R.R. Tolkien)

  • Is this the game that defines the OL's Identity?
  • The end of the game reminds of the end of Chicago game last year, however in that game on key 3rd-and-short, Clive Walford missed a block and Roy Helu was stopped short.
  • Menelik Watson played RT for 1 series, similar to Vadal Alexander in Week 2. Good plan to work him back in.
  • 2nd week in a row that a skill player celebrated with Austin Howard. This makes me think that he was playing hurt earlier and that this is a strong showing of their appreciation for his sacrifice. Latavius giving Austin the ball to spike on the 3rd TD was a great moment.
  • Reggie McKenzie continues to bring in new young talent and Mike Tice has a plan to develop them. Nice to have an emphasis like that and a pipeline to the future.
  • Note that even in 2nd half, offense was mixing in pass plays including some aggressive downfield attacks.
  • Confidence in run game can help the team close out victories and also can relieve pressure on Derek to think he has to win the game every week.
  • Combination blocks are look much more effective, indicating timing and chemistry is starting to get in place.

  • Cohesion, timing, and chemistry continues to grow. Donald Penn/Kelechi Osemele looks much improved. Gabe Jackson improves week to week on right side.
  • Success breeds opportunity. Running the ball effectively and efficiently allows for taking a shot or two. It's up to Derek to be smart about them, though.
  • Despite fantastic overall performance, OL did have some assignment confusion at times and sometimes let a defender come thru clean.
  • OL performance in 2nd half of season could be even better than in 1st half
  • The excitement about the run game and this dominance could be contagious. WR's and TE's appear excited and motivated to run block. To be fair, Andre Holmes, Crabtree, and Seth Roberts have all been very active run blockers. Clive was doing some work and that was good to see.


  • Fresh Legs on Latavius is a good look.
  • Latavius ran hard and dropped his shoulder a few times.

  • At other times, Lats showed quick feet with jump cut and then acceleration
  • OL was doing work, but so were the runners. There were many times that the Broncos defenders swarmed the playside and the RB's made plays.
  • Lats' big 42 yard run came even though Gabe/Rodney Hudson let NT Sylvester Williams come thru the line with only a single bump.That bump was by Rodney and Williams couldn't recover by the time Lats ran thru.
  • Cutbacks. Big runs came on some hard cutbacks and some ad lib plays to the backside (Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington)
  • Denver 2nd level defenders were swarming to the primary gap and left cutback lanes.
  • RB unit may have been prepped to look for cutback or jump-around lanes b/c of (over) aggressive LB's (and TJ Ward). If so, good prep work by Bill Musgrave and RB Coach Bernie Parmalee.
  • Denver D was not respecting the fake Amari end-around action.

Bill Musgrave's offense

  • The strength of Musgrave's offense is that it is multiple and can attack in many different ways.
  • Can line up with drastically different personnel and formations with motion in the same series. Tremendously diverse offense.
  • Requires special and smart QB to absorb, to understand, and to run it; but learning it takes time. Last year's offense looks much more limited compared to this year's.
  • Credit to Derek Carr for his effort and to Bill Musgrave for his work in teaching and building up that offense for Derek.
  • Perhaps the difference between Good Musgrave and Bad Musgrave is the difference between Derek Carr and Christian Ponder.
  • The diverse offense requires multi-faceted talent base. This offense now has many hybrid elements on it. Amari, Crabtree, Andre Holmes, Lats, Olawale, Jalen, DeAndre, Walford, Rivera have all lined up in different positions and they allow for very different formations from "ordinary" personnel groups.
  • Requires strong and versatile OL
  • The rush offense uses inside zone, outside zone, power, counter trey, zone read, and pulling linemen in either direction on Pin/Pull-type plays. Currently, the Raiders' OL has big, strong, athletic, and mobile players who can do all of the above.
  • Reggie McKenzie has been acquiring the right pieces for Musgrave's offense
  • This offense is still evolving and growing and the team is still learning. As it continues to develop, it may become as difficult to gameplan as a Belichick offense
  • Interesting that this year, there is less Chip Kelly influence than last year.
  • Was able to install a new play at halftime b/c of the experience at OL

Mychal Rivera

  • Mychal was involved quite a bit
  • 13 Personnel, obviously, but also in a lot of 12 Personnel. 1 RB and 2 TEs (Clive and Mychal) was more like an 11 Personnel group when Mychal split out.
  • Lee Smith's injury opened up opportunity for Mychal to contribute
  • Lee Smith is essentially being replaced by Denver Kirkland and Mychal Rivera. But this combination is doing a good job and clever use of personnel is making it (so far) difficult to defend.

13 Personnel

  • 13 Personnel is 1 RB, 3 TEs, 1 WR Personnel group.
  • It is typically a run group, but with Mychal, Clive, and Denver Kirkland it can also have a passing feel to it.
  • When Lee Smith was injured, bringing in extra Tackle was a cue to the opposing defense that Run play was coming. By using Clive and Mychal and having DeAndre in the backfield, this is also a potential passing unit. Motion Mychal outside and it pulls a LB out and lightens the box.
  • This is 13. Latavius, Clive, Denver Kirkland, and Mychal (wide right). Amari is the single WR and is in a tight split to the right side :

  • This is more of a "normal" 13 Personnel formation :

  • Clever adjustment
  • Stealing from the Opposition? 13 Personnel has been a problem for Ken Norton's defense since Tennessee game. KC notably used 13 (and 22) Personnel to run over the Raiders' defense.
  • Using heavy personnel was key to Raiders beating Denver in week 14 last year. This year's game was an enhanced version of that.