Raiders Final 2015 Stats:
2015 Offensive Stats:
17th in points per game (22.4)
28th in rushing offense 91.1 yards per game
16th passing offense yards per game 242.4
24th total yards per game
2015 Defensive Stats:
22nd yds per game 363.6
12th 104.9 rushing yards per game
26th 258.8 yds per game passing
It changed everything.
When the NFL administered the salary cap, it was for 2 reasons. To limit salaries and spending on teams and to create parity. Both occurred.
Some fans are predicting Super Bowls every year for their teams; others predict doom and gloom. The reality is that EVERY NFL team has a weakness. This isn’t the 70’s where super teams with few to no weaknesses played. This is an era where the 2 Super Bowl teams have many questions to answer. Carolina now doesn’t play the 27th hardest schedule in the NFL and their offensive line was exposed; and Denver’s QB and offense is a mess.
With that said, fans of the Oakland Raiders should be wary of the weaknesses, but also not scream the sky is falling. In reality every team has issues. Let’s take a closer look at the Raiders.
In my opinion Murray is a RB by committee player. He’s not the work horse that the Raiders envision him to be. I like the Raiders loyalty but this is business. Murray should get 10-15 carries a game and then others should get their touches.
The Raiders have enough Running Back talent to win in the NFL and to be honest, thrive. The question will be will the Raiders use their RB’s properly. Murray will look great in one game and very ordinary in another. He plays smaller than his size and he goes down too easily at times. In some games he flat out disappears. Giving him the reigns is a mistake. I would start him but play him a lot like Denver or New England plays their RB’s. The Patriots never have had a great starting RB the last 10 years but their RB’s play a role and they do it well. You go with the hot hand.
Marcel Reece & Jamize Olawale need to get carries. Both are too talented not to get touches. Again, I’m not a big Bill Musgrave fan and I have doubts he can do that. He’s a very vanilla offensive coach.
The change of pace guy who the NFL experts said was too small is former Texas Tech star Deandre Washington. At 5’ 8” 213 lbs., he is a wrecking ball with speed. Most Californians are really not that much into college football but he was the go to man at Texas Tech who’s amazing offense has been near the top of college football for about 10 years now. He can catch the ball and run with quickness and authority. He was a steal of a pick in the 5th round. He isn’t a very good blocker in the passing game and that is a big negative though.
I would use him like San Diego and New Orleans used Darren Sproles. A great weapon in the passing game who gets at least 10-15 carries a game.
Jalen Richard has some Raider fans giddy, but in reality he was never even a full time RB in college at Southern Mississippi. He shared the role but he played well. He’s shown flashes and looks like he’ll make the team but the “plays like Barry Sanders” stuff? His speed is hard to ignore. Wow.
The Raiders have talent at RB, but the question is will they use it. If they rely mostly on Latavius Murray at RB, the grumbling in Oakland will and should be loud.
As I said in my preview last year, the linebackers on the Raiders have strengths but each has a weakness. Ben Heeney is not big and he’s also not fast. In college he struggled at times in the passing game. I think he’ll have his moments but he also will struggle at times. I think he’d be great off the bench but not as a starter.
Malcolm Smith is the opposite. He is solid against the pass; can rush the passer at times; but he’s not a good run stopper. As Matt Millen talked about in a couple of the Raider games, he side steps blocks instead of taking them on and shedding them.
Free Agent Bruce Irvin is pretty good against the run; not great; and not bad in pass coverage; his strength is rushing the passer and making plays. Something the Raiders want him to do more of. He’s a nice pass rusher but there is still a question whether he can be an elite one which is needed.
In reality the Raiders don’t have that stud middle linebacker; or linebacker for that matter; on this roster that can dominate 1st or 2nd down running plays. The fact is at times the Raiders are going to struggle stopping the run. That’s a problem because then safeties have to make more tackles and they get beat up. The Raiders safeties last year took a beating. With quality defensive linemen, using a 4-3 lineup on obvious running downs may help. Blitzes will also help.
Bill Musgrave/Tight Ends:
Above was my article when Bill Musgrave was hired. A hire that I’m still a little puzzled about.
Last year before the Minnesota Vikings game in week 8, the Raiders averaged 26.6 points a game. After the Vikings game they averaged 18.2 points a game.
The reason was that Minnesota took away the long pass and played their safeties deep. It’s called a bunch of names; cover 2; Tampa 2, etc…. When they took away the long ball Carr struggled in the medium passing game and so did offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.
Matt Millen said a couple of times during pre season that Coach Jack Del Rio wants Carr to be a better QB at the line of scrimmage. What he meant by that is that he needs to start calling audibles much more than he does. Teams on 1st down would bring a safety near the line of scrimmage. Instead of changing the play at the line of scrimmage, Carr would often go with the play and the Raiders running game struggled. You can’t blame the offensive line when the defense is expecting it and you don’t change the play.
What bothered me a lot with the Raiders offense in the second half of the season, is that Musgrave made no adjustments. Mychal Rivera and Clive Walford played a very minor role in the offense. If the Raiders want to get to the next level, they have to get a mid range passing game to exploit the middle when people play 2 deep. They also have to use audibles and play action passes on first down.
I don’t even know if Tom Brady can throw past 40 yards but he and Drew Brees are masters at the mid range passing game. In fact if you look at the top 12 passing teams in the NFL last year, 7 of them had top 12 tight ends. And that doesn’t include Green Bay’s Richard Rodgers and the Chiefs Brad Kelce who were top 12 tight ends but were on more balanced offenses who weren’t top 12 passing teams.
The Raiders can beat most of the bad to good teams without much of a mid range passing game but against the elite defenses in the NFL they will struggle at times. Musgrave must find a way to make the Raiders offense more balanced.
Even in the last pre season game against Tennessee. The Raiders didn’t even throw to the TE until the last minute of the half when Derek Carr missed Clive Walford. The Raiders tight ends could dominate in the red zone if they throw to them. Walford especially is too talented to waste.
Derek Carr/Bill Musgrave:
With Carr’s talent and this quality offensive line, Derek will have lots of time to throw and should have a great year. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have things to work on. If you look at the Raiders stats from last year, they have a ways to go to be elite.
Derek Carr is a lot like Carson Palmer. If you give him time to throw and he can set his feet, he’s very accurate and can tear you apart. If you rush him you can rattle him. Protecting him is key.
In the first 8 games Carr threw 19 TD’s and had 4 interceptions. In the last 8 games, he threw 13 TD’s and had 9 interceptions. Teams began to realize how often Carr looked at his outside WR for significant gains and attempted to take them away. Teams also blitzed constantly. In the second half of the Kansas City game, the Chiefs blitzed on every play from the middle of the third quarter on. Denver also blitzed on any 3rd down. There were no adjustments in the game plans by Musgrave and only rare audibles by Carr.
The next time you watch a Raider game look at the offense. Most passes are on the sidelines and they do not use the middle of the field much. For quality passing teams like the Patriots, Saints, Chargers, Panthers and others, the middle of the field are key components against teams with great DB’s and a solid pass rush.
Cam Newton and the Panthers had an amazing year last year and his leading WR was his tight end Greg Olsen who caught 33 more passes than any other pass catcher on Carolina’s top ranked offense. Many couldn’t name a starting WR for the Panthers.
You can’t get on Musgrave without getting on Carr who is the coach on the field. It will be interesting to see how they grow together.
I’m excited about this year for the Raiders. Every team has weaknesses and it’s important to keep it in perspective. The Raiders travel is hard but their schedule is fairly easy playing some very bad defenses. They should excel to a 10-6 record but in reality this isn’t a Super Bowl caliber defense, and the Raiders need to get more balance on offense. Nothing is for sure in the NFL though.
With social media, the highs and lows of fans should be a reality show in itself. Coaches and seasoned fans though know that the NFL season is a marathon. Mostly skill, part coaching, mixed in with a little luck with a lot of patience in between. But if you think this team is filled with holes, or if you think they are reinventing football and their offense is amazing, I think you need to change lanes. Stop stressing and get out of the fast and slow lane and put yourself on cruise control. This should be a fun ride and with so many losing seasons, that is a great improvement.