Preseason action last week against the Rams saw the second and third team offenses get valuable reps and help players fighting for a roster spot to make a name for themselves. This week against the Cardinals the first team offense got the first crack at it. They delivered an encouraging opening drive going 75 yards for a touchdown. Here is the breakdown of how it all happened.
Play 1: Power Run
Carr and the starting offense opened up the drive with 3 consecutive runs by rookie Josh Jacobs. The opening play is a power run scheme with Left Guard Richie Incognito pulling towards the right side. Incognito is able to kick the linebacker out and give Jacobs enough room to get in the crease. Right Tackle Trent Brown and Right Guard Jordan Devey do a great job getting push and driving the defensive lineman into the defensive backfield. Gain of 6 yards.
Play 2: Wide Zone
Jacobs gets the ball on a zone play this time. The Arizona defense is in a great look to cut off the direction this play is intended to go. Jacobs processes this problem quickly, throttling down and identifying a cutback lane behind Trent Brown and TE Foster Moreau. The rookie running back shows great acceleration to burst past the unblocked (by design) edge defender and gets more than enough for a first down.
Play 3: Inside Zone
Another zone run, this time its an inside zone from shotgun. Jacobs again quickly processes the open hole and gets into the second level in a hurry. When he’s in traffic Jacobs continues to show good vision and sees Terrell Suggs bearing down on him. The rookie slips his shoulder and gives a hesitation step making the 7 time Pro-Bowler completely whiff on the tackle attempt. The defense was bearing down so it might not have mattered in the box score, but avoiding contact is key to prolonging a career at the running back position.
Play 4: Deep ball
Derek Carr’s first throw in live action is a 50-50 ball to newly acquired WR Tyrell Williams. Williams is a deep ball specialist and gained the trust of division rival Philip Rivers in these exact same situations. Gruden calls a max protection meaning 7 blockers stay in and only 3 routes are run. The broadcast angle doesn’t show if Carr’s quick look towards the right influences the deep safety but judging from his late arrival, Carr played this one perfectly. Credit goes to Williams for winning the contested catch. A penalty for lowering the helmet adds a few additional yards at the end of this gain.
Play 5: Missed blocks
Raiders look like they are running the “Duo” run scheme which is a cousin of the zone scheme but calls for the offensive linemen to sustain their double teams longer and push the defensive line backwards. “Duo” runs usually call for wide receivers to get heavily involved in the blocking scheme since the offensive lineman aren’t immediately climbing to second level blockers. TE Darren Waller and WR Keon Hatcher are on the front side of this play and it looks one or both miss their assignment. Waller is the most likely culprit, coming across the formation to block a man Kolton Miller is already taking care of.
That being said, Josh Jacobs shows off his ankle flexibility and ability to cut on dramatic angles getting past the line of scrimmage despite two great defenders coming completely unblocked directly in his running path.
Play 6: Red zone pick
Gruden dials up a common short yardage pick play from a 3 wide receiver set. The outside receivers run slants while the inside most receiver runs flat down the line of scrimmage in the opposite direction. This ends up being an easy throw and catch for a touchdown to newly acquired WR Ryan Grant.
The pick play brings the flat defender inside, in this case likely number 33 rookie CB Byron Murphy. Murphy is too late getting to the goal line and Grant wins the race to the pylon. This play is one Antonio Brown should get plenty of looks once he gets back into the offense.
- Without much game planning, the offense was able to win matchups across multiple position groups. The offensive line looks solid, especially the highest paid tackle in football, Trent Brown opening up holes in the run game.
- Josh Jacobs looks like a viable starter with burst to take advantage of both zone and gap run schemes. His running will be a welcome boost for a ground game that failed to gain much traction in 2018.
- The deep ball to Tyrell Williams should be a match-up the Raiders look to exploit as the season goes on. With Antonio Brown coming back and drawing extra attention, Williams will get plenty of single coverage opportunities on early downs.