Entering the week four match up against the Colts, there were plenty of questions surrounding the Raiders offense. After a solid week one showing, the Raiders failed to create enough scoring opportunities and their ability to drive the the ball downfield. Quarterback Derek Carr was the first to get the blame for erratic play in the pocket either scrambling early or throwing the ball away. Whatever your position on Carr, it’s safe to say he was in a rut during the week two and week three losses.
There were also questions about the running game and why Josh Jacobs wasn’t getting the ball as frequently as he did in week one and hadn’t been featured in the passing game. The offense made positive strides against the Colts and at least started to answer some of these questions.
Throwing the deep pass
Derek Carr is known as a QB who likes to get the ball out quick. Some of the best quarterbacks of all time have this trait. Carr’s problem comes when he becomes too predictable in this quality and fails to allow plays to develop. This wasn’t an issue for him against the Colts.
On the opening drive Carr hits rookie TE Foster Moreau for a score down the right sideline. This pass travels 20 yards downfield and was made possible by Waller running the post route and holding the safety in the middle of the field. Moreau does a great job securing the catch in a contested situation.
The Colts play a cover 2 scheme that takes away deep throws with safeties playing as far as 20 yards back. A good QB knows the weaknesses in a cover 2 and should be able to take advantage of the soft spots. Carr throws a 17-yard strike to TE Darren Waller in one of those aforementioned soft spots.
Credit the play call here which sends the back on an option route, pulling the linebacker out of the throwing lane allowing Carr to hit Waller in rhythm.
It was a throw Carr attempted but didn’t complete that should interest Raider Nation. Some people slammed Carr for throwing into “quadruple coverage” on this play. But there is much more to this throw. WR Tyrell Williams is running what is called a “bender” route against cover 2. Williams needs to widen the safety before breaking inside to the soft spot in the zone.
Carr sees the linebacker take a Tampa 2 drop which usually takes this throw away. However the best QB’s on Sundays will try to fit this pass in right behind the linebacker’s head. This is a major league throw and we see Carr hold onto the ball and have patience before taking his chance. Even though this pass wasn’t completed (due to a fantastic break on the ball by the safety), it shows Carr taking steps toward a mentality of taking shots down the field.
Getting the backs going
Running back Josh Jacobs was a workhorse in this game. Almost every scoring drive was maintained due to Jacobs hard running and burst through the hole. On the opening drive Jacobs gave a signature run and making it difficult on opposing defenses.
Take a look at the blocking on the right side of the line. The linemen, the tight end, and the fullback all throw great blocks sustaining contact and driving their man backwards. A run game is only as good as the blocking and this bullying approach is what the Raiders need.
The run blocking also benefitted Jalen Richard who is known more as a receiving option out of the backfield. Richard takes the hand-off and again runs behind the right side of the line. Two holes open up and when the LB chooses one it makes for an easy read for Richard who puts his foot in the ground and jets upfield.
The run game shouldn’t be the only place where running backs make an impact. The best backs will make plays in the passing game. It can be argued that Jacobs makes two plays in one on this dump off from Carr. First Jacobs correctly identifies the blitz and stops the incoming linebacker in his tracks.
After throwing a block, Jacobs gets his head around and hauls in a short pass from Carr. When Jacobs has the ball in his hands in the open field, exciting things usually follow. The rookie back makes two defenders miss and gets the first down.
The offense needed to have this type of performance against a banged up defense. The Colts game will be a confidence booster before battling against a superior defense in London this weekend.
Newcomer Trevor Davis showed off his wheels on a reverse play that turned into a 60-yard score. Davis will likely remain a gadget player on offense but putting that run on film will force defenses to prepare, giving Gruden the chance to come up with another wrinkle.
Josh Jacobs is averaging over 19 yards per reception. He is also among the NFL leaders in forced missed tackles according to PFF stats. He needs more opportunities to shine in the passing game.