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Raiders-Titans preview: Looking for offensive balance

Raiders’ need to find running groove

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
Josh McDaniels
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

There are several reasons why the Las Vegas Raiders have unexpectedly started 0-2 under coach Josh McDaniels.

One of those reasons is a lack of consistent balance on offense, The Raiders have run 76 pass plays and just 34 run plays and it has helped result in a shaky offensive output.

The unit has been uneven and getting more balanced with the run game is something Las Vegas coach Josh McDaniels needs his team needs to do beginning Sunday at the Tennessee Titans.

“I’d say the big thing for us (in a 29-23 home overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday) was we found ourselves with penalties, which we’ve kind of stayed away from that. I thought the penalty situation yesterday – we didn’t do a great job of keeping ourselves ahead of the down and distance,” McDaniels said this week. “We had first and 15, second and 15, first and 20, 2nd and 17. And so, those situations themselves can become problematic relative to just being consistent in terms of runs and continuing to run the football. We fully had the right idea there, to do that and establish ourselves in that regard, and I thought JJ [Josh Jacobs] ran hard yesterday.

“I thought he made some yards on his own, I thought we gave him an opportunity to get started. And we got to do a better job of playing a cleaner game on offense. We had some runs called back too, a couple of big ones that were called back. Our hand placement, where we have our hands, the decisions we make – we had a couple of procedure penalties. So, we just got to clean up our whole operation offensively and stay ahead of the down and distance, and I think the running game will come to us.”

Arizona Cardinals v Las Vegas Raiders
Josh Jacobs
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Still, as the Raiders’ offensive players and new coaching staff adjust to each other, McDaniels has vowed to stay focused as a play-caller.

“A lot of people will say it was just passing the ball with a lead. I think that’s maybe part of it,” McDaniels said. “But I think maintain your aggressiveness in terms of opportunities to make plays, as opposed to taking too many things out of the offense that you feel like gives you that opportunity. I think sometimes you battle that. You battle it as a play-caller, you battle it as a player.

“ It’s human nature. You have a lead, you want to try to protect it, and sometimes the feeling would be, ‘Well, if we just don’t risk anything, then maybe we’ll be okay.’ I’ve never felt that that’s really the right thing to do because the other the other side, they’re still playing too. And so, even though you have a lead offensively, it doesn’t mean you have enough points. In order to score enough to win, somebody would have to tell me at halftime, ‘Here’s the magic number’ ... At the end of the day, it comes down to our overall execution, whether we’re running it, throwing it, drop back play action, tossing the ball, draw; whatever the play is, if we execute it well enough, we’re going to give ourselves an opportunity. And we had plenty of them, we had plenty of opportunities to win the game in both phases, really. The kicking game was a little less as the game wore on, but offensively and defensively, we had plenty of opportunities. We’re just going to have to make one more than they do.”