Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chicken or Egg?

In the Raiders first 2 games of the season, the offensive unit has rolled snake eyes due to a combination of poor performance and bad coaching. This double whammy of ineptitude has led to much discussion and debate amongst the media and the Raider Nation.

Some camps believe that Walsh’s play calling is the chief reason for the poor performance. Other camps believe that the Raiders offensive unit doesn’t have enough talent on the field to be successful. While other camps blame the Raiders offensive system of power rushing and deep passing is an outdated, faulty set-up.

In my view, what ails the offensive unit is a whole series of factors, problems, and inadequacies. Let me touch on some of these areas of concern;

#1 – OFFENSIVE LINE. The success (or failure) of the offensive unit starts (or ends) with the offensive line. Simply put, the O-Line needs to be able to run block sufficiently and protect the QB on pass plays. The offensive line has given up 15 sacks.

The continued teaching by the coaches, the development & gained experience of the young O-linemen, better play calling, and possibly another reconfiguration of position assignments will help the cause. Is it possible for the Raiders to swing a trade for a veteran O-lineman in exchange for Jerry Porter?

#2 – POOR EXECUTION. Dropped balls, missed blocks, fumbled snaps, missed assignments.

Proper technique, better practice habits, film study preparation, and in the moment focus will solve these game day errors.

#3 – TURNOVERS. 7 turnovers in 2 games.

Poor reads (Walter), tipped balls (Whitted), fumbled snap exchanges (Grove-Brooks/Walter), and a bad hand off exchange (Walter to Jordan) has led to prime field position and easy scores for the opponents.

#4 – PLAY CALLING. Offensive Coordinator Tom Walsh needs to tailor the game plan and schemes to work effectively against a blitzing D.

Selecting plays that utilize more 3 step drops (crossing routes, slants, short stem routes), 5 step drops (screens, intermediate patterns) and a commitment to the running game are ways to slow down the opponent’s pass rush.

Walsh needs to select his plays with both a short and long term view. There needs to be plays called early in the game to help set up successful plays later on. Using reverses and screens helps slow down the end rushers. Using the tight end on seam routes helps clear the field for effective pass plays to the running back. Using short stop routes helps the receivers use double moves on later routes. Committing to the run helps set up play action pass. The play calling needs to dictate the tempo of the game, the match-ups, and how the defense will react.

#5 - THE SYSTEM. Until the offensive line gets their act together, the Raiders need to scrap the 7 step drop/deep pass patterns. Since the power rushing attack of running the ball between the tackles is struggling, more runs need to be bounced to the outside. Justin Fargas should be getting 8+ carries a game to stretch the D horizontally.


- A "talented" player is someone who executes his assignment, wins his one-on-one battle, and has a positive impact on the team's overall success. Technique, heart, football intelligence, and focus can be equally as important as sheer athletic ability. A perfect example of this would be Freddie B who was slow and small but he ran perfect patterns, had golden mitts, and a heart as big as a lion.

- Coaching adjustments are game plans, play calls, personnel grouping, substitutions etc. that puts the players in the best possible situation to succeed. In the Marine Corps we affectionately referred to this as the ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome. So far I haven't seen this from Shell/Walsh. Zero receptions for the running backs in 2 games. 13 plays with 7 step drops by Walter in the Ravens game with the offensive line leaking like a sieve.

Both the execution and the coaching adjustments need to work in harmony to maximize the results. Solid execution makes a play look better and a timely coaching adjustment gives the players a better chance to execute.

In other words...

If you have poor execution on poor play calling you get the results we suffered the 1st 2 games.

If you have good execution on poor play calling you at least have a fighting chance for a positive result.

If you have poor execution on good play calling you get bad results.

It isn't until you have good execution on good play calling that you really get things rolling. Let’s hope that the Raiders get things rolling against the Brownies on October 1.


Blogger Raider Take said...

Love it, CJ! The quick drops, slants, screens, etc. of which you speak are an antidote to our core problem: the inability to to protect our QB as longer plays develop.

I'm not buying the notion that our guys don't have the talent to handle these types of plays, as some have suggested.

Execution is clearly an issue, and we can't blame playcalling for poor execution. But perhaps if the playcalling were more inspired, our guys might be a bit more inspired. Not that there's any excuse for poor execution.

What's your take on our getting to the line so late and getting the snap off with one-second on the play clock? It happened over and over again in Baltimore. I think the game's already moving fast enough for a young QB like Walter without having him flirt with delay of game all the time.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

My take on running up against :00 on the play clock;

Rustiness (Walsh), lack of urgency (O unit), and inexperience (Walter)

- Walsh is taking to long selecting the play and communicating it to the QB

- There is a lack of urgency or "snap & pop" to the team getting in and out of the huddle.

"It has to be a sense of urgency on everybody's part," coach Art Shell said. "That starts with the play calling coming in on time, but also the quarterback getting the plays out in the huddle so that we can get out to the line of scrimmage. ... There were too many times we were not getting up there quick enough."

- Walter's lack of experience in diagnosing the D once he gets to the line has burned up a few extra seconds.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous youknowwho said...

This one is spot-on, Calico. Would add only a bunch of 10 yard outs to Moss. Big players can carry teams when they're down. Heck, on the schoolyard he'd get more than that!

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Execution,Execution,Execution, Come on, don't blame coaching. The players need to step up and do their job. Art can't block, Freddie can't catch, and Willie can't cover for them. The Raider players need to get pissed off and beat the player across from them. Oh,the Raiders do few 7 drop steps, so it isn't seven steps its the O/L. They need to block.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Anon - You are right. The players need to execute their assignments. However, the coaching, playcalling, in-game adjustments, game planning are also very critical. It helps put the players in the best position to succeed.

As far as the 7 step drop, it was hardly just a few. In the Ravens game there were 13 documented snaps where the 7 step drop was used. Since the O-line clearly struggled in both the Chargers and Ravens game, it is important for the coaching staff to make adjustments to minimize this deficiency. That is just basic common sense.

10:47 PM  

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