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Breaking down Raiders offensive struggles and what Derek Carr may mean by ‘trying to do too much’

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Going beyond stats to explain Raiders offensive issues

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a lot of talk on social media, various news outlets, and throughout the fan base on the Raiders offensive deficiencies. In particular their third down efficiency and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s league low average yards per attempt.

Our own Levi Damien did a great write up on Carr talking about trying to do too much that I recommend you can check out here. While I agree with Levi’s facts in his case, I also understand what Carr was saying and I will show you why.

Here Carr reads the single high man coverage and checks receiver Amari Cooper to a fade route, something he loves to do. This was the Raiders first 3rd down of the game but one of only three they would convert. Anytime an offense picks up 13 yards on 3rd and 7 there is reason to celebrate. This play is part of the problem with how Carr is operating the offense and thankfully he is aware of it.

Carr checked to this back shoulder throw and did not look anywhere else but at Cooper. While the pass was completed, it was contested. Now watch this play again but pay attention to tight end Jared Cook’s route. Cook is the inner most receiver on the offenses left side.

Had Carr gone to Cook’s crossing route he would have gotten at least the same yardage with the actual reception but also additional run after the catch. Carr wanted to attack the Bills man coverage but his aggression actually took him away from a more productive option.

Here is the Raiders third 3rd down of the contest. Again Carr is trying to attack deep.

From a pure scheme standpoint, getting three vertical routes covered by man-2 is a win for the defense. The quarterback may have windows between the receivers and safeties to put the ball. Those windows are very small, however. I believe this is the play Carr was talking about in his comments. Compare the space Amari had to attempt to catch this pass with the giant hole in the middle of the field.

Something that may help put this in perspective is Amari Cooper’s two touchdowns from the Raiders victory over the Chiefs.

Raider Nation celebrated both of these plays as they should. There is a stark difference between them though. On Amari’s first touchdown, if his feet do not tangle with the defensive backs, the corner would have been in excellent position to make a play on the ball. Not to mention Seth Roberts was wide open on the right side and should have been the target.

The second touchdown is how Carr needs to attack the coverages teams are playing against him. Look at how easily Cooper turns the corner and gets into the endzone untouched. This offense is built with guys who are best with the ball in their hand and having space to work with.

Derek needs to look to get his athletic targets like receivers Amari Cooper, Seth Roberts, Cordarrelle Patterson, and running back Jalen Richard the ball in that space. His pressing for the big vertical plays has the offense spinning its wheels in the mud but going nowhere.

If he attacks defenses under their coverage it will open up the deeper routes Carr loves to utilize. If the offense could get their running game going, it would help out as well in that regard.

Carr’s first interception in this game was again a case of him being over aggressive.

Carr locks on wide out Michael Crabtree from the snap and tries to fit this pass over the zoning linebacker. The linebacker gets a hand on the ball and tips it to the safety for a simple interception. Had Carr gone to Patterson running a dig route from the top of the screen, there is a good chance he picks up the first down.

Even if Patterson comes up short, a punt here is better than giving the Bills the ball at the Raiders 41-yards-line. The good news is Carr knows he has been pressing. If he can utilize the very dangerous weapons he has at his disposal in a more efficient manner, the Raiders can still salvage their season.

The opportunities to do so are running out very fast. The team cannot afford a repeat of the Bills game this week in Miami. If Carr can show he has learned from his over aggression the offense will get back on track. If he continues to force plays into coverages designed to prevent them, the Raiders will continue to lose.