This year is a nightmare.
In a fire storm that some are calling apocalyptic, 670 people are now missing and 3500 homes are destroyed. It’s also far from over. Sadly, as was being reported last night by several news outlets, All-Time Raider great Cliff Branch announced his house was burned down during the Santa Rosa fire storm. He lived near the Coffey neighborhood which looked like a war zone after the raging fire went through the area. All he could get out of his house was money, and his 3 Super Bowl rings. He drove off in one car but lost his other 2.
(below; Mercury News Story on Cliff Branch’s home)
“My house was a Raiders house” said Branch. “All three Super Bowl trophies are gone. We all got replica Lombardi Trophies when we won the Super Bowl. A lot of great Raider history from the 1970s and 1980s is gone.” When Mark Davis saw his home he called it a Raiders museum.
I’m sure all of Raider Nations positive vibes and prayers of support are with the Raider great during an extremely difficult time. At least Cliff is safe.
How to Fix the Raiders On the field:
Yesterday I read on social media some very interesting comments. Let’s address them and see how to make the Raiders as good as they can be to have a successful season.
I have one word for Jack Del Rio and Raiders OC Todd Downing. ADJUST!
The Raiders are running the same plays as last year but teams are attacking them differently. I’ve been saying it for 3 weeks, the Raiders have to change their philosophy. No longer are teams afraid of the deep ball against Oakland, so teams are going from a cover 2 to press coverage. If you look at the films of last year, many games the Raiders got easy short passes due to the huge cushions Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree got.
Former Cowboys QB Tony Romo said it best in the Washington game; “teams are no longer giving the Raiders the easy short to mid range passes, so they have to adjust and look to go deep more often to stretch them out”.
Teams don’t allow Cooper to run free on short passes. They are in his face playing physical and he has not responded well.
How to Fix It?:
The Raiders bragged all off season about picking up Cordarrelle Patterson, the speed burner WR from Minnesota. NOW USE HIM. The Raiders have 3 fast WR; Patterson, Cooper and Johnny Holton who has already caught a deep ball for a TD. Throw to these guys. It’s funny; when you start to hit some deep passes all of a sudden the DB’s start to give you cushions and the offense opens up. Cooper has lost his confidence and if there was ever a confident Raider, him talking to Cliff Branch would not be the worst thing for him. He has to be involved more.
All you heard this off season was beast mode, beast mode, beast mode. I wasn’t thrilled with the signing of Marshawn Lynch and in fact said several times the Raiders committee of running backs was more than enough. I stand by that.
How to Fix it:
The Raiders need to make Marshawn Lynch a short yardage, goal line back. He does not have the burst he did during his younger days. I like youth in my RB’s and Lynch is now 31 and is not the same player. You see the same thing with Frank Gore at Indianapolis. When someone with speed comes in it’s like night and day.
Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington need to start getting the brunt of the carries. Jamize Olawale is an underrated player and also needs 5 touches a game. All 3 are good pass blockers and pass catchers. Lynch is limited and it’s limiting the offense.
After their amazing season from last year, the standards are very high. The Raiders have only given up 12 sacks in 5 games but for this group that’s a lot. Last year Carr was the best protected QB in the NFL and he thrived. This year there have been 12 sacks and he’s struggled. It’s not a coincidence. His weakness is throwing under pressure and keeping him free of pass rushers is imperative to the offenses success.
How to Fix It:
There is only one answer; they need to step up. Oakland is #1 in spending on the OL with 26% of their salary cap spent on this group. You can’t spend more money on the OL especially when the defense needs so much help.
Carr got spoiled last year when he had so much time, and on occasion he has held onto the ball too long this year. He’s now being rushed more and it’s obvious he is not comfortable in the pocket.
How to Fix it:
He needs to audible more and be much more aggressive with the deep ball. Some old fashioned play action passes while throwing a deep pass on first down would stretch the field and make Al Davis up in heaven happy for sure. Dump off passes to the RB would also take off the pressure some.
Linebackers and Defensive Backs:
This group has no interceptions in 5 games. I’m tiring a little with some fans on social media saying how great this defense is and that if they had a good DC they’d be awesome. Ken Norton may not be the answer, but this defense is not talented. Before the season started, Sports Illustrated and ESPN had the Raiders LB’s ranked last in the NFL. Their DB’s are not much better at times and take out Mack out of the DL and it will make any Raider fan cry.
Teams found out David Amerson struggles with the deep ball, and Sean Smith now struggles with any ball. Safety Reggie Nelson really isn’t making much of a difference and Karl Joseph is better against the run v.s. the pass but he’s still learning. Rookie Gareon Conley is still hurt and rumors have him being out for a while, but take that for what it is worth. Conley was not good against the run at Ohio St. and it remains to be seen how good he is covering because he’s missed so much this year. The hope is that Conley is a great cover guy but this may be a wasted year for a #1 pick.
How To Fix It:
Shalom Luani deserves a chance at safety. Allow him to play more. I’d like him to get some time with Joseph because he has such good safety instincts.
At LB, the Raiders are in big trouble. There are a handful of people in the free agent pool but to be honest, there are no answers for this group this year. They need to disguise their blitzes and be super aggressive and get to the QB to hide their week back 7.
Unless you have a pass rush in today’s NFL, you are going to struggle. These rules are so biased for the offense that passing records are falling left and right. As Jack Del Rio has said, they are a few times that they are the Khalil Mack show and not much else. Mario Edwards Jr. has his moments early in a game but he disappears and is not consistent. Bruce Irvin doesn’t have a sack all year and hasn’t had the impact the team was hoping for. Eddie Vanderdoes has also not been as impactful as was hoped and Justin Ellis has occasional good moments but it isn’t enough to make a difference.
How to Fix It:
Again, this is going to have to be addressed next year. Someone on social media was raving about the possible signing of ex Bear DT Jaye Howard but that is beyond positive thinking. Howard played 5 years; 2 missed from injury and he only has 7.5 sacks and no one would sign him this year.
The Raiders HAVE to get to the QB. Start blitzing like mad on 3rd down and long and make sure that you do a better job at disguising it. Also it’s insane to blitz and then give WR cushions because you know a quick pass is coming. Get in the WR faces when you blitz. Sometimes the DB’s are lazy when they are blitzing and they give it up too quick. I saw Nelson and Joseph Blitz against Baltimore and you could see it a mile away.
This is a must win for Oakland. San Diego is not a great team and they finally scored a TD late in the 4th quarter for the first time in 24 games. Oakland should handle the Chargers but nothing is for sure. With the last part of the Raiders schedule being so difficult, this is a must win.
They are running the same offensive plays as last year and teams have caught up. Oakland also has been trying to solve their pass defense for years with DB’s and it doesn’t work. Until the Raiders get a stud DT and a pass rush, get ready for issues up front. And if the Raiders draft an offensive player over a LB or DT next year, heads should roll. Defense wins championships and this defense isn’t winning any championships. Seeing the response online, if the Raiders don’t turn this thing around this is going to get real ugly.
If the offensive philosophy changes and the Raiders adjust, the offense can carry them a long way. The defense will have to take chances and blitz though. It’s put up or shut up time in Oakland and a win against San Diego would be a nice start to a new chapter.