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Raiders Week 12 Focus: In-game adjustments

Switching to uptempo offensive attack should be a Las Vegas calling card from here on out

Las Vegas Raiders v Denver Broncos
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) and the offense went to an up-tempo hurry-up style late against the Denver Broncos and it worked out great.
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Josh McDaniels’ offense has been a mixed bag this season. From organized, deliberates and methodical haphazard, disjointed, and miserable, the Las Vegas Raiders offensive attack has shown domineering and comical spirits.

When the team is executing it’s high-powered and a fireworks show. When it’s plagued by miscues and penalties, it’s hard to stomach for Raider Nation and easy to defend for the opposition.

We saw a bit of both in the Raiders’ Week 11 walk-off overtime 22-16 win over the Denver Broncos last Sunday. We’ll see what’s in store for McDaniels’ Silver & Black offense this coming Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks when Las Vegas heads up the Pacific Northwest for an afternoon showdown at Lumen Field. But what’s clear, based of the Raiders’ previous game, in-game adjustments are a must — namely an uptempo offense, when required.

“In the first game against Denver, we did a little more uptempo stuff,” Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi said during his mid-week media session. “So credit to the players. They took the plan and did a very good job executing the stuff at a high tempo and getting the ball down the field down at the end of regulation. But yes, that’s something we can always take into consideration every week and allow the players to go out there and execute plays at a quicker tempo.”

Las Vegas Raiders v Denver Broncos
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Foster Moreau (87) tries to break through a tackle during his 33-yard catch and run in overtime. The Raiders went quicker on the game-winning drive and attacked vertically.
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Asked if Las Vegas is now at the point where they can go quicker on offense after the new offense install, Lombardi noted there are other factors — before admitting it is also based on progression and comfort.

“I think the offense is always evolving based on the opponent, based on the skillset of players, based on injury situations, all those kinds of things,” Lombardi said. “So, you weigh everything into account, but you’re right, absolutely. As you get more time on task with the players you have, it definitely makes things easier to kind of adjust and do things new on a weekly basis.”

Seattle is coming off a bye week — the team fell to 6-4 after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-16 in Germany two weeks ago — but the team boasts the fifth-ranked scoring offense in the league (257 points). Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith is having a career resurgence and is extremely efficient as he’s completing 72.8 percent of his passes (230 of 316) for 2,474 yards, 17 touchdowns to just four interceptions. If Seattle scores points in bunches, Las Vegas will need to answer in kind and that’s where an uptempo offense can help fire back.

Seattle has scored 29 total touchdowns but given up 29 end zone visits to their opponents this season. Flip it to Las Vegas and the Silver & Black scored 24 touchdowns on offense while yielding 29 on defense.

That all said, the Raiders making adjustments on the sideline and giving receivers ample room to operate independently on route choices can help attack the Seahawks defense — on that is equal parts opportunistic and stingy. Las Vegas showed allowing receivers to set up defenders with different route options proved quite beneficial. Case-in-point: Davante Adams making easy work of the Broncos’ accomplished and normally frugal secondary on his pair of touchdowns (31 yard and the 35-yard walk-off score in overtime).

Las Vegas Raiders v Denver Broncos
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams hauls in the game-winning touchdown pass from Derek Carr last Sunday. Adams set up the Denver Broncos secondary with cunning guile as the separation he created was ungodly.
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

“That’s one of those plays where obviously we did a good job in the game of running some run actions and stuff like that,” Lombardi noted. “We give players some freedom on routes to do certain things and take advantage of different looks, and we saw something in the game that gave us an advantageous look for Davante and Mack to run that scheme again. And we talked about it; credit to those guys for taking the coaching on the sideline and then going out there and executing it.”

Again, the “E” word: Execution. That’ll be vital against Seattle. Especially considering the potent offense the Seahawks possess. Yet, Derek Carr is game to go quick if the needed arises. In fact, the Raiders quarterback prefers it.

“It’s something I’ve always loved, maybe it’s because that’s how I played in college, just playing as fast as possible,” he said. “There is certain tempos in college that I don’t think you need in the NFL, but playing fast has always been fun for me, and I enjoy it, and there’s a time and a place for it. I’m not so wise to know when that is; coaches study those things and (Josh McDaniels) would know better than I do. He’s looking at the whole team aspect of it. So, for me, I’ve always enjoyed it. I’ve always loved it. So, if he ever wants to, I’m always excited. He knows that I love doing that.”