In a battle of an unstoppable force (Raiders run game) meeting an immovable object (Jets run defense), Sunday proved that the Raiders are anything but an elite rushing attack. So far this season, the run game has hummed along. Big blockers, creative TE usage, and a back like Josh Jacobs to bring it all together and maybe make his line look better than it actually is.
The performance against the Jets, however, showed all their flaws and will be the blue print for how to stop the Raiders offense going forward.
The first play from scrimmage was a run to the left. This play is designed to hit off-tackle, but Jacobs never gets that far due to an awesome rep from 3rd overall pick Quinnen Williams. Williams drives Hudson almost 5 yards into the backfield (don’t think I’ve ever seen that before) and forces Jacobs to cut up well before this play is designed.
The cutback lane is cut off by the defensive end, whom TE Darren Waller is assigned to block. When the coaches draw this one up, they don’t account for it breaking down so much that Waller’s block is an afterthought in this scheme.
Later on, the Raiders attempt to lighten the box and run the ball out of a spread formation. In theory this is a great idea. This front-side zone concept puts 5 blockers on 5 defenders (The fake RPO holds the 6th defender). Jacob’s read is the DE and he wants to cut up behind the double team.
The Jets just happened to call a perfectly timed gap exchange that puts the DE in the B-Gap and the LB scrapes over to the C-Gap. This clearly catches Gabe Jackson off-guard, as he’s thinking he will momentarily help Brown with the DE and move up to the LB.
Most likely because he’s caught off-guard, Jackson’s pad level isn’t ready to handle this block (notice how his head is higher than Trent Brown’s), and the defender is able to shed and make the tackle.
Another example of gap penetration disrupting the Raiders zone scheme. The Raiders are in a great look here. They want to run an outside zone lead play called BOSS (Back on Strong Safety) which in theory should leave Jacobs 1-on-1 with a defensive back in the open field. The problem with the above play is it is suppose to hit outside of the tackle.
Instead, Gabe Jackson just gets beat (can’t defend this one) and forces Jacobs to cut up way too early for what this blocking scheme is attempting. Due to Jacobs early cut, what was 5 blockers on 4 defenders actually turns into 3 blockers on 4 defenders. TE Foster Moreau and FB Alec Ingold are trying to create an alley up the right side of the offense, but they have no one to block because the defense is essentially playing an inside run play.
During the Raiders last ditch effort to put a drive together, they were faced with a 3rd and 2. Instead of running those zone plays that were getting blown up all game, Gruden opted for a quicker hitting power play. This blocking scheme doesn’t rely on spacing and angles like a zone scheme. Instead it is about building a wall in the direction of the run and adding a pulling guard to create a hole for the RB to hit.
The Raiders are in a 2 TE formation with Waller and Moreau to the right side of the formation. The two tight ends have to double the DE before one moves to the second level. Moreau does a good job initially of getting his hips close to Waller’s so they can stand the DE up. But the rookie makes the mistake of leaving the double before Waller has his man secured, and the result is the DE hitting Jacobs in the mouth before he gets across the first down markers.
The entire offensive line played poorly. The tight ends didn’t block well. Jacobs probably missed some reads and left some yards on the table. This was a team wide problem.
The Raiders couldn’t get the ball moving on the ground with either zone or gap scheme runs, light or loaded boxes, RPO or bubble actions. None of it worked.
Add in all the dropped balls and missed reads in the passing game combined with the dreadful performance from the defense and this feels like a one-off with the entire team lacking juice. Must have been something in that New Jersey water. Hopefully we see a Raider team that doesn’t sleepwalk through their game this weekend.