After six weeks of the 2017 season, Oakland has the NFL’s No. 30 ranked offense in yards per game. Compare this to their No. 6 ranked offense from a season ago.
If anyone said that the Raiders would be No. 30 in the NFL after six games of the regular season, it would have been easy to break out laughing. It seemed so far fetched a few months ago especially after adding new weapons in Marshawn Lynch, Jared Cook and Cordarrelle Patterson.
The one major difference from last season? Replacing former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave with the young former QB coach Todd Downing.
Oakland’s offense has looked completely different this season from last year. Downing has an added emphasis on the quick and short passing game along with a higher frequency of outside zone running plays.
Unbelievably, the Raiders have used just 12 play actions in six games — fewest in the NFL. With deep threats in Amari Cooper and Patterson along with the power run game that comes with Lynch, it would be expected for the offense to utilize the play action frequently. Instead, Downing has used it just one time per half.
Downing has insisted he’s not concerned and that the answer is in the scheme.
“When you look at the tape, you can see that we’re so close on so many things.” Downing said Tuesday. “We know that we’re just this close to making a couple more plays each game and being able to come out on top and feeling like we put together a good product.”
The result is the offense averaging 13.25 points per game during their current four-games losing streak; nearly HALF their points per game of last season (26 ppg). ‘Close’ seems a little preposterous.
Even still, left tackle Donald Penn echoed Downing’s thoughts as to how close the Raiders are to turning things around.
"We're very close," Donald Penn told Levi Damien following the Raiders loss to the Chargers Sunday. "But we've been saying that for the last couple weeks and close ain't getting us nowhere in these [four] losses we got right now. We gotta get over that close hump and we gotta find a way. Good thing is we got a couple of days to figure it out, so I'm looking forward to that."
With the talent we know this offense has, a monumental turnaround seems possible, but it would take major changes.
So far, the offense has been focused on protecting Carr by having him get rid of the ball under two seconds on average per play and Carr has looked a lot like he did when he was a rattled rookie including throwing multiple interceptions in each of his last two full games.
It’s time to start using the weapons Mark Davis opened his checkbook for this offseason and diversify the playbook. If Downing fails to do so, this is as ‘close’ as the Raiders offense will get this season. And this isn’t ‘close’ enough