Now that the season is over, we can take deep dives into the Raiders film from 2019. Jon Gruden and Derek Carr had more highs than lows this past year, but ultimately weren’t able to make enough plays to have a winning season. The Raiders deep passing game has been under scrutiny since 2017.
Let’s take a look at the concepts that the Raiders called most often down the field:
Across the middle
Carr and the offense as a whole were solid attacking the middle of the field deep. Carr finished 17-of-31 for 437 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT on such concepts. His 54.8 completion percentage on said attempts is a good number for passes down the field. This is where Carr was most comfortable throwing the ball, and he did so with decisiveness.
The Deep Cross or “Over” route was by far the Raiders most successful concept on downfield passes. Carr went 6-of-9 for 138 yards and a TD on this play. The Raiders ran this route out of different formations and combinations of routes but most of the targets went to Tyrell Williams. Williams speed and catch radius helps him run away from defenders and adjust to these passes over the middle.
The Raiders also utilized the Dagger concept with some success. This concept involves an inside receiver running a clear-out and the outside receiver running a dig into the vacated area across the middle of the field. Carr went 3-for-5 for 71 yards on this play. The biggest example, however, was the one Tyrell Williams dropped in the Jets game.
The seam route was also a solid concept for the Raiders. Carr finished the season 3-of-6 with 113 yards on this play. His main target on this route was Darren Waller, who has the speed to take off away from safeties down the middle of the field.
Outside the numbers
This is where the Raiders passing offense struggled most. Carr went 21-of-49 for 562 yards and 5 TDs. While the Raiders did get more TDs out passing concepts deep down the sidelines, they also tried these plays much more often. Carr’s completion percentage of 42.8 is a far cry from his efficiency targeting the middle of the field. If anything comes out of this article, it is to highlight the Raiders need for a WR who can win on the outside in man coverage.
Fade routes are a quick-game concept where the QB takes the snap and rifles the ball towards the sideline. Go routes basically look the same, except the QB takes a 5 or 7 step drop and allows the play to develop downfield before his throw. Either way, the Raiders weren’t effective on this concept, going 4-of-12 for 104 yards and a TD. Though it was by far their most attempted downfield concept, it produced the worst completion percentage.
Gruden clearly understood the struggles that this offense had winning on the perimeter and began to utilize the switch release concept to scheme players open on the outside. This is an outside route from the inside-most receiver in a bunch set. Carr finished the season 5-for-9 for 168 yards and 2 TDs on this play. Eventually as the season progressed, even Hunter Renfrow became a downfield target for Carr on this concept.
The Deep Out was the next most utilized outside concept. The Raiders ran this same exact play seven times, but were only able to complete three of them, including the interception in Week 13 against the Chiefs. After this play, the Raiders never ran this concept again.
Derek Carr will most likely be the Raiders QB in 2020. He needs an explosive perimeter threat who can win on the perimeter with more regularity than Tyrell Williams.
Williams could still be that guy. He had a few games early in the season where he was running crisp routes and winning outside. But his foot problem limited his route running and he never quite looked comfortable winning in jump-ball situations.
Carr only attempted one downfield pass out of structure. That lone pass fell incomplete. When you watch the playoffs, watch how a scramble drill that turns into a completion deep can change the course of the game. Carr simply needs to attempt more of these plays.