During a conference call Wednesday with season ticket holders, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio discussed offensive coordinator Todd Downing and his use of the no-huddle.
“In terms of what we do with Derek, we think he is really good at operating out of a no huddle” said Del Rio. “Being able to see what the defense wants to do, about giving him more and more leeway at the line, and more opportunity to get us out of bad plays, and into good plays. Just feel like with a quarterback with his talents, that we have to take advantage of that, and so absolutely, we’re going to look to do more of that as we go.”
I wanted to take a look at how the no-huddle was utilized in 2016. Starting off I found that of the 1047 offensive plays ran, only 58 snaps (5%) were no-huddle. While defensive calls and game situation can certainly play a role, the offense did gain 2.6 more yards per play compared to when they huddled up.
The run game wasn’t really affected, only gaining 0.7 more yards per carry. It is in the passing game that the stats show an obvious improvement. Completion percent rose from 63% to 66% while yards per attempt jumped from 6.7 to 8.0. The number that really stood out was QB rating which went from 93.3 in the huddle to 111.5 operating out of the no-huddle.
“I feel really good about Todd Downing and his relationship with Derek Carr” Del Rio continued. “We really believe that the keys to a special offense are taking advantage of a talent like Derek, and allowing him to have the keys to run the show. We’re going to give him more and more freedom at the line, and looking for him to continue his development. He’s turning into one of the fine quarterbacks in the NFL and we’re happy to have him.”
The combination of tempo and freedom should elevate Carr to the level of elite NFL QB. He displays an considerable understanding of defensive schemes as well as great pre-snap recognition. Carr’s ability to get the offense into a play that will take advantage of the defensive alignments will be a large part of the teams success this season.
Del Rio’s words brought to mind a play from the San Diego game in week 5. The Raiders are lined up in 4th and 2 in the third quarter. The original play call was a run. Carr see’s the press coverage on Crab with only a single high safety. Diagnosing the coverage as Man1, Carr calls for Crabtree to run a fade route which results in a touchdown.
While there will be times that taking shots like this will not pay off, you have to love the mentality behind the attempt. We have all seen enough of Alex Smith to know what the alternative looks like.
If the Raiders are to win a Superbowl, recent history indicates you need a QB who won’t just manage a game, but rather go out and win it. Del Rio knows the Raiders have that in Derek Carr.