Oakland Raiders Film Room: Bye Week Recap

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The Run Game or Lack Thereof

A big part of the offseason excitement was going to be the addition of a strong run game that Oakland can rely on and build their constraint plays around. Not only were new veteran linemen brought in to shore up the offensive line, but 3x All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew was added to create the “1-2 punch” that would give McFadden some relief running the ball and keep defenses on their toes against two different types of runners. That hasn’t quite been the way it turned out. While Oakland has been about league average in pass blocking, they’re near the bottom of the league as run blockers. This was supposed to be their strength, and has instead become a major weakness and huge disappointment. The few times they have gotten it right however, it’s been very exciting to watch.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Against Houston in the 3rd Quarter Oakland gets a drive going and executes this power wham run with and extra lineman and 21 (2 RBs, 1 TEs, 2 WR) personnel against Houston’s 3-4 (3 DL, 4 LBs, 4DBs). They bring in T Menelik Watson and line him up on the right where a tight end would normally go and motion TE Leonhardt in the backfield. At the snap, Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski and right guard Austin Howard intentionally let the Houston nose guard slip by them and immediately look to block second-level defenders. TE Leonhardt flies inside on the wham block and takes the nose guard out of the play as FB Jamize Olawale lays a solid hit on LB Brian Cushing. Creative run plays like this have served Oakland fairly well this season and have shown the possibilities of how explosive this run game could be when everyone is one the same page.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

In the red zone against Miami, Oakland utilizes 20 personnel (2 RBs, 0 TEs, 3 WRs) for this zone read against Miami’s 4-3 defense (4 DLs, 3LBs, 4 DBs). The entire line blocks beautifully on this play. Watch the initial step to the right side of the image by the offensive line. C Stefan Wisniewski makes a particularly impressive block on DT Earl Mitchell, while G Gabe Jackson works to the second level, succesfully blocking LB Phillip Wheeler. Sending FB Marcel Reece across the formation for the backside block creates misdirection that takes Miami LB Jason Trusnik out of the play. All that’s left is for Carr to make the correct read on the scrape exchange (DE dives in against the run while OLB “scrapes” behind him to contain against QB keeping the ball) and McFadden to run through the wide hole given to him.