One Is A Lonely Number
One snap. One possession. One quarter. One half.
One of the biggest problems facing the 2008 Raiders is the lack of productivity of the offensive unit. This is especially evident in the 1st half of action in each game. The following number is depressing and simply unbelievable:
The Raiders have scored a grand total of 1 TD for all of the 1st halves combined in 7 games of action.
Chew on these dismal 1st half stats:
Total # of plays: 212
Total # of possessions: 44
Time of possession: 99:57
Total 1st half points: 36 (9 FGs, 1 Safety, 1 TD)
Average 1st half scoring: 5.1 points
What are the solutions to the offensive ineptitude and slow starts? The running game of 2007 needs to be re-established in 2008. A healthy Darren McFadden making explosive plays would be one quick remedy. Getting Justin Fargas back on track is paramount. The second area that needs to be greatly improved is the passing attack. The WR corps needs to become an integral part of the offense in terms of creating balance, moving the chains, and making big plays down the field.
In 7 games of action, the Raiders have a total of 7 passing TDs with only 2 covering more than 8 yards (Higgins 84 yards, Miller 63 yards). Probably the most important area of improvement is the Raiders red zone efficiency. When the Raiders get inside the 20 yard line, Russell needs to get his unit into the end zone. This will be a result of Russell continuing to evolve in his decision making abilities and make better use of his physical talents. One play that I would like to see Knapp dial up for Russell in the red zone would be an empty backfield and delayed QB draw. Along those lines, Russell needs to be more willing to pull the ball down on broken pass plays and run for the 1st down marker instead of resorting to throwing the ball out of play.
The improvement of the Raiders offensive unit and the increase in scoring productivity is largely contingent on how quickly Russell develops. The playmakers on the roster need to help Russell bridge the gap between development and results.