Many were dreading the Raiders match-up against the Kansas City Chiefs. Much was made about the point spread for the Sunday afternoon game and Oakland was a huge underdog going into the contest.
With all the accolades being given to the Chiefs offense, the Kansas City defense on the other hand is on track to give up a record amount of yards this season. The Raiders only chance for an upset in this game was to exploit the Chiefs brand of bend and break defense. Gruden and Carr had a great offensive plan dialed up— but 3 fumbles lost by each running back ended up being the deciding factor in this game.
The offense was able to put up some good tape and were effective for much of the game minus the drives that were killed by turnovers. TE Jared Cook and WR Jordy Nelson had great outings. Jalen Richard averaged 15.8 yards a carry on the ground. And the red zone offense took another step forward.
Big days for Cook and Nelson
Everyone knows Jared Cook is Derek Carr’s favorite receiving weapon. The 6’5 TE is a serious match-up problem for defenses not only because of his size, but his speed and ability to make things happen in the open field.
The post route from Jordy Nelson clears the cornerback and opens up space for Carr to throw the deep cross to Cook up the the left sideline. Most tight-ends momentum would have carried them out of bounds on this play but Cook shows remarkable body control and ankle flexibility to turn and run for an extra 10 yards up the sideline.
Cook scored a beautiful touchdown off a double move in the 2nd quarter. With the defense in Tampa 2 coverage, the middle linebacker is responsible for Cook as the number 3 receiver in the formation. Cook runs 10 yards before using a stutter step making the defender guess wrong before continuing up the middle of the defense.
This is great timing from QB to TE and a perfect play against the defensive look. Cook would end the day with 7 catches for 100 yards. Cook’s numbers this season rank top 5 in every statistical category for Tight Ends this year;
- T5th in receptions - 54
- 4th in yards - 709
- 3rd in TDs - 6
- 2nd in receptions over 20 yards - 14
- 4th in 1st Downs - 36.
- T5th in yards per catch (minimum 30 catches) - 13.4
While all the other receivers not named Jared Cook have struggled to put together consistent performances this season, Jordy Nelson did have quietly a very good game against the Chiefs.
Nelson had 10 receptions for 97 yards and many were drive extending catches during the Raiders comeback effort in the 4th quarter like the play above. Notice Carr nod to his receiver before the snap. Even thought it might not be flashy, Carr knows Nelson will be in the right place and hits him for a first down.
Richard gets going
Chiefs send a corner blitz against this single wide look and the DB has Richard dead to rights in the backfield. A quick move from the shifty back makes the defender miss before scampering 30 yards down the field. This drive would eventually end in a 50 yard field goal from K Daniel Carlson to puts point on the board.
The Raiders used a knew wrinkle this week having a receiver motion and run around the back of the formation. This is called an orbit motion and you will see many college and high school teams use this to create the effect of a triple option. The Raiders were very successful on this play including two big runs for Richard and another for Doug Martin.
This particular run from Richard put the Raiders in scoring territory and ended with the Jared Cook TD catch.
The Raiders came back to the exact concept as the play above later in the game. We can see from the end zone camera angle the offensive line did a great job of out-leveraging the Kansas City front 7. Even more impressive than the great blocking on this play is the running from Richard. He’s a human pinball and this angle shows you just how difficult it is for defenders to get him on the ground.
Raiders fans love Richard’s willingness to fight for extra yards once he gets to the second level. Of course that got him in trouble on the play he fumbled but Richard never lost confidence in himself and his coaches reciprocated by continuing to call his number late in the game. This run in particular set up the Lee Smith touch down catch.
Red zone offense in rhythm
The beginning of the year had some rough outings in the red zone. The Raiders have steadily improved in this area despite losing Marshawn Lynch to IR and Amari Cooper to trade.
Doug Martin for all he’s worth is not the ideal size for a goal-line back. He gets it done here however in part due to key blocks from TE Lee Smith and crushing pull from RG Gabe Jackson.
Speaking of Lee Smith. The Raiders TE is known for getting the dirty work done as a blocker. That’s likely the reason the Chiefs left Smith all alone in the back of the end zone on this play-action. All 3 defenders in coverage key Martin’s arrow route out of the backfield and end up losing Smith.
In the 4th quarter down 10 points, Carr and the offense are in striking range again. Carr audibles to a fade route when he recognizes single coverage from the Kansas City Secondary. Rookie WR Marcel Ateman uses his superior size and rebounding skills to box out the corner and haul in the jump ball.
These plays; running, play action, and drop back demonstrate the improvements that the offense has made in the red zone. The more comfortable Carr gets in Gruden’s system the more Raiders fans will see execution like this on Sundays.
- Saying turnovers were costly is an understatement. The 3 fumbles by 3 different running backs was the first time it has happened in an NFL game since the merger. Needless to say those crucial errors cost the Raiders a chance at pulling off the upset.
- The Chiefs defense as noted above is allowing yards at a record clip. That being Said, Carr executed at a high level all game and is now in his 7th straight game without an interception.
- The blocking in the run and pass game has steadily improved since the devastating loss to the 49ers on Thursday Night Football. The scheme change seems to finally be clicking along with the offensive line getting healthy. Raiders have rushed for 390 yards in the last two games and 2 touchdowns (both from Doug Martin).