Friday, September 15, 2006

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

What frustrated and disturbed me the most about the offensive unit's performance against San Diego was that the game plan seemed too rigid to a fault. There is plenty of blame to go around for the poor performance but to take a page out of the Marine Corps training manual, it time for the coaching staff and players to "Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome".

The Raiders offense is based on a power rushing attack and a vertical passing attack. For the vertical passing attack to work, these 3 things must happen:

(1) rock solid pass protection where the O-line sustains their blocks an extra second or two.

(2) run the ball effectively to force the opponent to honor the run and put 8 men in the box. This in turn allows for play action passes.

(3) pass it effectively to the Tight End in the middle of the field to occupy one of the safeties.

Since the O-line was manhandled, Jordan couldn't run it effectively, and TE Anderson dropped 3 balls, we had no shot at completing any deep patterns let alone even attempting a deep pass.

What are some of the remedies to shore up the pass protection and allow Brooks time to complete some passes and move the chains?

(1) The O-line needs to step up their performance by being more physical, having better technique, and better overall execution.

(2) Max protection schemes: 2 TEs & RB staying in to block; better blitz pick-ups.

(3) Get FB John Paul Foschi on the field for more snaps. He is one of the Raiders best blockers.

(4) Quick counts and usage of the no-huddle offense.

(5) More 3 and 5 step drops by Brooks; short to intermediate pass routes.

(6) Screens, draws, reverses mixed in to keep the Ravens off guard and the Raiders less predictable.

(7) More manageable 2nd and 3rd downs by running the ball with consistency & conviction.

(8) Brooks needs to have a better sense of time and pocket awareness. He can’t hold on to the ball too long. Brooks needs to be decisive by either getting rid of the ball or pulling it down and running.

I have these questions leading up to the Baltimore Ravens game on Sunday:

(1) How will the players bounce back from the Chargers massacre and an adverse week?

(2) What adjustments will the coaching staff make in terms of the game plan, play calls, protection schemes, and personnel?

(3) How well will LT Chad Slaughter play as a replacement for the injured Robert Gallery? Can he wall off Brooks’ blindside?

(4) Shell has been preaching since February that the Raiders would be fully committed to a power rushing attack. How many carries will Lamont Jordan get in this game? I have set the over/under at 25 carries.

(5) Will Jerry Porter be inactive again? Will Curry start over Whitted?

(6) How creative will OC Walsh be with the play calls? Will screen passes, draws, roll-outs, and quick timing routes be utilized to take some of the pressure off of Brooks and the O-line? Will he get Moss involved early in the game with some short to medium range passes?

(7) Is Shell able to get his team focused on the task at hand and inspire the players to play with passion and commitment?

The character and heart of the Raiders players will be severely tested in their battle with the Ravens. I’m hoping for the best but I can deal with a loss as long as the team shows improvement, plays with passion, and goes down swinging.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


The Raiders problem is not execution it is lack of leadership, talent and crappy coaching.

I have been a Raider fan since 76 and I never have seen a Raider team in disarray so early in the season. It is miserable seeing all the Raider hater coumn’s out there from Bill Simmons, Peter King etc.

1. The WR corps is a joke one good player---Moss, one potential good player Curry and one goof Jerry Porter, the rest are never has beans or never will bees

2. D a couple of potentially good linebackers, an unproven secondary and a thin d - line

3. Offensive line is a joke

All this is compounded by a coaching unit that does not have a clue. Seven step drops when you can not run please, nickel D to open the game. I love Art Shell but as a strategist he does not have a clue that was evident during his first go around as coach..

Lastly and most importantly no leaders on the team except for Sapp. The last time the Raiders were good 2001-04 look at the leaders they had: Rod Woodson, Rice, Gannon, Brown, Wisnewski, Romo etc.

I am not giving up on my Raiders but let's face facts they are deep in the rebuilding mode and the disheartening thing is they look like they are going in the wrong direction.

The way I see it the Raiders have done one thing correctly in the last two years that is draft some fast players on D. Biggest mistake not getting Cuelpepper---Brooks is mediocre at best and Walter who knows. Maybe the expected poor record this year will let us get Brhom or Quinn

I know what you are going to say don't jump off a bridge after one game. Also in your last response to me you mentioned things were hard in the first two years of Gruden---at least there was a plan, you could see the direction and I would kill for 8-8 this year. CJ you are the best of the bloggers. However, instead of writing a column your second this week that describes all the football basics what the Raiders need to do (run the ball, play tough, blah, blah) how about a state of the franchise column addressing the radical surgery that needs to take place.

Sorry to rant but I need some prep for how I anticipate I am going to be feeling post Baltimore game


Florida Raider

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Raiders are doomed. Mayor Walsh has proven that he CAN'T DO THE JOB with repeated terrible play calling (going back to the 90's) and a complete lack of imagination. The "traditional" Raider offense is just what the word "tradition" implies: old, used, washed-up.

I was glad to see Art return but this is, in fact, what I expected when I heard that Walsh was also coming back.

I know, it's only one game. Problm is that if the Raiders can't even make half-time adjustments that my 10 year old daughter can figure out, what makes anyone think they can make adjustments from one game to the next?

Tradition is the antithesis to progress.

I've read on other boards that this type of play will bring back the "oh, we let Gruden go" crowd and to that is say "Damn right!" Loosing Gruden was more than just loosing a good young coach. Too be honest, when we lost Chucky I almost sent Al 30 years' worth of Raider memorabilia because it was clear to me that his ego was actually more important than winning. Now, just a few years later, it is even more appearant that one of the Raiders big problems is Al. THE GAME HAS PASSED HIM BY.

I love the guy and it pains me to say, but puill your heads out and look at the evidence:

1. No coach will work for him.

2. Unlike in the past, few veterans want to play on his teams.

3. He can't draft to save his life (or his team) and he won't let his coach do it.

Appearantly, what the Raiders are going through is not a rebuilding, it's just reloading (another Al-ism). Guess what, It dosn't matter what the Raiders are doing, rebuilding or reloading, because it's pretty clear that every week they bring knives to gun fights, and if the Mayor doesn't suddnely get creative the Raiders (and all of us who work with Donkey fans) are in for a long, sad season.


9:23 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Florida Raider - Thank you for your insight. You should seriously consider starting your own blog. It is very easy and I would be happy to help you get started. It would be a good platform for you to share your views and vent your frustrations! LOL!

I hope you don't mind but I think it is perfectly ok to agree to disagree on some of your points.

The main difference that I have with most of your points is a proper sense of perspective. I think it is unfair and unreasonable to base most of everything you said on 1 game. The Chargers game was a complete nightmare, no question. It definitely exposed the O-line. If however the Raiders opened the season say against the Browns, not on national T.V., and played some good football like in parts of the pre-season, would everyone be saying the 'Raiders World' is coming to an end like now? Of course not.

I believe in Art Shell and Rob Ryan as leaders and coaches. Yes, I have my doubts about OC Walsh. To throw the entire coaching staff and team under the bus after 1 game is ridiculous.

The O-Line is young, reconfigured, and learning a new blocking is going to take time for them to develop and gel. I have the time, do you? By week 5 let's see how the O-line is performing.

The WR group is average with the trade of Gabriel and status of Porter. Curry isn't potentially a good player...he is a good player. Period. Moss is arguably the 2nd best receiver in the history of football. I like what I have seen from Morant the last 2 pre-seasons. He has good size, speed, hands, and attitude. Whitted is a good 4th receiver for the vertical attack because of his exceptional speed.

I love our young defense. Huff and Howard were excellent picks. With 9 of the 11 starters having 4 or less years of experience, the defense has a VERY bright future.

You really should get over the Gruden years. It is over. The talent level that Gruden inherited his 1st year is head and shoulders above what Shell inherited.

If you want to write about the state of the franchise addressing the radical surgery that needs to take place, go for it. Like I said earlier, you really should consider starting your own blog. I started this blog last year to share my passion for the Raiders. I'm not worried about whether or not my opinions are accepted. I write when I want to write on whatever I feel like writing about. You might have noticed that I have absolutely ZERO advertising on my site. I have had plenty of opportunities to advertise but it was a conscious choice to keep my blog uncluttered and simply a journal.

Lastly, I find it comical and disheartening at the same time that so many Raider fans who expect the team to never throw in the towel are the same ones giving up themselves. A bit hypocritical, don't you think? I hope you have a terrific weekend.

Best Regards,
Calico Jack

9:25 AM  
Anonymous raider00 said...

Calico: You're right, it's way to early to throw in the towel on the season. This weeks tough road game should tell us a lot more about the Raiders chances.

At the same time, the thing that really concerns me is the lack of talent the Raiders have coming through the draft year, after year. It makes it hard to see a bright future on the horizon.

For example, even if you look at the recent Super Bowl/Gruden yrs, you will see a team built mostly on free agents like Gannon/Romo/Rice/R. Woodson/Garner/Armstong/T. James, and others. Even then, there was very little drafting success by Al Davis, and that poor drafting continues today.

Take a look a the O-line. Gallery, Grove, Mquistane, & Walker, all high draft picks, and so far, looking like busts, one and all. Now, maybe they will gel, but they just look awful.

Look at the TE position over the yrs. Dudley, Jolley, and now hands of stone, C. Anderson. I mean, where does Al find these losers, and more imortantly, how can he misread their talent level time after time. It drives me crazy.

QB since Plunkett. There has only been Gannon, a free agent dart thrower, who could not deliver the deep pass.

Running back since Marcus/Bo. Again, a bunch of free agents like Garner, Harvey Williams, and now Jordan. Oh wait, Al did draft Nick Bell. Be still my heart.

I could go on, and on. There just haven't been any players coming through the draft, and it's been that way for yrs now. This is the biggest reason why the Raiders stink, and if Al keeps drafting, they will keep stinking, I'm sorry to say.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous youknowwho said...

I caught today's game on the radio. Kudos to Greg Pappa and Tom Flores for not just getting up and leaving mid-broadcast. I was at the Chargers game and didn't exercise the same patience -- left after 20-0 in beginning of 4th quarter.

CJ, you are a terrific blogger -- a must read. But come on. Art Shell, approximately the 10th candidate the organization spoke with, is not the coach of the future. Hell, he wasn't even the coach of the past. As a coach (not HOF player, for which I still revere him), he flat out sucks. Yes, so do most of his players. But I want a coach who emotes on that sideline -- you know, smile, frown, f'ing rant and rave when a player and/or the whole team blows it. Art Shell is comatose out there. No excuse.

And I'm with the other poster. Big time. Al Davis, former football mastermind, is now a very sad character. Reminds me of every great quarterback that played two too many years, getting traded to some shit team where he gets injured in game two and rides the bench for the next season and a half. Put him out of my misery. Get a modern ownership group. Honor him for his past, but honor the team, the town, the league,and the fans today.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

YouKnowWho - (I'm assuming it's you, D.H.!)

I'm sure it was rough being at the Chargers game. I watched the game today on t.v. and believe it or not, Shell was much more animated, involved, and fiery. On one particular sequence, after Walter called a time out in the 3rd quarter, the camera panned to Shell. He had the entire O-line gathered around him. As the t.v. analyst Steve Tasker noted "Shell is really trying to light a fire under the offensive linemen". Unforturnately, on the very next play Walter was sacked/stripped and fumbled the ball.

As far as Shell, I firmly stand behind him. As noted in my February 9th post, Shell has a record of success as previous Head Coach of the Raiders from 1989-1994. Shell led the Raiders to 3 playoff appearances and a 56-41 record. Shell was voted Head Coach of the year in 1990 leading the Raiders to a 12-4 record, divisional title, and AFC Championship berth. I just don't see how you can say that he sucks as a coach.

I'm willing to wait for the 1st year and 2nd year players to continue to develop. Walter had a rough debut being thrown into the fire unexpectedly. Although his 3 fumbles (1 lost) + 3 interceptions was a disaster, he showed some of the intangibles & promise for why the organization drafted him as the future franchise QB. The young players on defense played exceptionally well. The defensive unit is definitely on the rise. When your opening 5 possessions are (fumble, fumble, 3-out, 3-out, 3-out) it is amazing that the D held the Ravens to only 9 points.

You rant about Al Davis I've heard before from much of the media and fans and I understand it after the Raiders have compiled a 13-37 record recently. My take;
The coaches need to teach, motivate, devise a game plan, and put the players in a position to succeed. The players need to execute the game plan. As owner, Davis is responsible acquiring the talent and hiring the head coach amongst many other organization duteis. Most of the major problems in the 1st 2 games are due to poor offensive line play and turnovers. These are 2 correctable problems. I have liked the overall play of the D and special teams.

9:48 PM  

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