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Raiders film review: Offense takes four steps forward, one step back

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Indianapolis Colts v Oakland Raiders Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

Coming off of a bye week the Raiders offense looked to be in a state of flux. Injuries to Kelechi Osemele and Marshawn Lynch (the latter being placed on injured reserve) and the trade of Amari Cooper to Dallas brought valid questions about just how potent the offense could be without 3 key components.

The previous Raider’s film room article highlighted how the passing attack needed to make use of all receivers, tight ends, and running-backs in order to take advantage of the Colt’s below average pass defense.

Despite the tumultuous last couple of week, Derek Carr had one of the best games of his career; at one point completing 16 straight passes on 4 consecutive scoring drives, 3 of which resulted in passing TDs and the other was Carr’s first NFL rushing TD.

The Raider’s offense got the ball back with a little over 5 minutes left in the game, down a touchdown. Doug Martin’s fumble prevented Raiders fans from seeing how Carr would operate in the clutch, down in the fourth quarter. For a large chunk of the game however, the Raider’s offense was humming.

The first touchdown

Gruden pulled no punches in this game and the play calling was his best yet in 2018. This play shows great execution from Roberts to stutter and sell the run right before Carr’s play action fake to the runningback. The combination of these two elements caused the corner to jump up enough for an easy throw and catch for the Raiders first score.

The second touchdown

The Colts had to know Jared Cook would be the main vein of the passing game for the Raiders. But the threat of Martavis Bryant was enough for them to forget about Cook on this play. Notice the pump fake from Carr in Bryant’s direction as the WR fakes a screen.

The linebacker in charge of carrying Cook in the seam bites and again, Carr hits his receiver in rhythm. This is almost exactly like a play-action pass with the built in fake screen. Cook and Jordy Nelson run vertical routes and Carr has a clear read when the safety chooses to cover Nelson. Shout out to Cook for the extra effort to get across the goal-line.

The third touchdown

Much has been made of Carr’s lack of rushing touchdowns. This has been a common argument against the Raider’s franchise QB for the past two seasons. On this drive the diminutive Doug Martin was unable to punch it in for a score so Carr gets his number called.

Somehow the zebras ruled this short but it was pretty obvious to everyone watching at home that Carr easily crossed the line for a score. Gruden won this challenge and Carr got the rushing touchdown monkey off his back.

The fourth touchdown

This is Carr’s most impressive play of 2018. His detractors have always pointed out he gets happy feet, panics when rushed, and checks down too easily. On this play Carr showed that’s not always the case. Carr steps up in the face of the rush, shrugs off all-world athlete Margus Hunt (literally, the guy is a world champion discus thrower) and scrambles upfield before throwing a strike on an improvised route from Brandon Lafell.

Notice Jalen Richard all alone near the top of the screen, one has to wonder if Carr wouldn’t have simply elected to check-down to the receiving back earlier in the year. It seems that Carr is growing in confidence in Gruden’s offense and the results are showing up in Carr’s efficiency and scoring ability.

Takeaways

Despite the loss, Carr did everything he could have to done to put the Raiders in a position to win.

He completed 75% of his passes on the day.

He had 16 straight completions at one point before missing Seth Roberts late in the game.

More than half of Carr’s completions went to running backs — 8 catches for Richard, 2 for Martin, and 1 for Keith Smith.

The Raiders scored on 4 of their 7 drives. Martin fumbling on the last drive sealed the game and prevented what could have been another scoring drive by Carr and company to tie it up late. We’ll never know how it could have ended if not for that fumble.