In the past two games in Denver and Washington, the Raiders have scored just 10 points in each of those games. Third down has been a nightmare with the offense only converting on 2 of their 23 opportunities the last two weeks. Any team converting on a pathetic 8% of their third down plays will have a hard time scoring.
The biggest factor in the offense thus far has been a surprising inability to run the football. Possessing one of the best offensive lines as well as a bruising running back like Marshawn Lynch should enable the offense to impose their will on the defense’s front. That has not been the case the last two weeks.
In their two wins to start the season the Raiders have rushed for 235 yards (117.5 avg) while only gaining 56 yards (28 avg) on the ground in their two losses. Was the issue simply the quality of the defenses they were playing or should they consider changing the back they are most counting on? Or is a change needed? Some have even suggest a possible solution could be replacing Marshawn Lynch as the feature back with Jalen Richard.
The Raiders did make an effort to get the running game going against the Broncos but consistently shot themselves in the foot. On the second series for example, Lynch gained 4 yards on first down. Jared Cook was then called for a false start turning a 2nd and 6 into a 2nd and 11. Lynch was able to gain about 7 yards on the next play only to have that called back on a holding call against center Rodney Hudson. A team will not be able to establish the run when they turn a 2nd and 6 into 2nd and 21 with penalties.
While many running backs have struggled in a shotgun based offense, Lynch does not appear to be bothered by it. While every running back benefits from the running start single back and “I” formations create, Lynch has always been able to produce from shotgun sets as well. Here he picked up about 6 yards against Washington’s eight man front.
When you think of Marshawn Lynch this type of run comes to mind. He is going to hit the defense more than they hit him. He can be used to wear down the defensive front hoping that bigger runs can be broken off as the game goes along. For the season Lynch has 151 yards on 45 carries (3.4 avg) and one touchdown.
The Raiders were looking to get Lynch involved with their passing attack as well. While he is capable of running routes, Lynch is not a dynamic receiver out of the backfield. He does have 28 yards on 3 receptions (9.3 avg) though if teams continue to play tight man coverage on the Raiders receivers, they need to take advantage of plays like this.
Quarterback Derek Carr was looking for Lynch on this wheel route but he was unable to gain any separation. A linebacker covering a running back has to be an advantage for the offense. A team has to punish the defense for using man coverage and the linebacker/running back match-up is usually the easiest one to attack.
Fellow running back Jalen Richard could potentially be the ideal player in the Raiders backfield to do just that. If there is one word to describe Richard it’s ‘explosive’. Richard has 91 yards on 15 carries (6.1 avg) and this touchdown on the season.
This run did not come against a defense on par with the Broncos who held him to 7 yards on 2 carries (3.5 avg) but it is certainly the type of run those who would have Richard start have in mind. He cut back inside an outside zone run and was off. Richards has show how dangerous he can be with the ball in space.
The Raiders were looking to get their running backs involved in the Broncos game. Again this is an area that Richard has come up with big plays. He has 81 yards on 5 receptions including this 20 yards gain against Denver.
Richard saw only 6 snaps against Denver. Expect that number to increase this week at home against the Baltimore Ravens. The Raiders need to get their offense on track and big plays from the running back position will certainly help. A solid running game would help that 3rd down conversion rate as well.
There are already some fans calling for Richard to replace Lynch in the lineup. Where do you stand on the issue? Who do you feel fits in the Raiders scheme the best?
Who should be the Raiders starting RB?
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