Five Things the Oakland Raiders Can Do to Turn Things Around
Sep 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
4. Scrap the Screen
One of the key features of Greg Olson’s passing attack this season has been the screen pass, whether it be wide receiver screens or running back screens. While the screen-heavy offense at first seemed to be Olson’s way of giving Derek Carr an offense he was familiar with (Carr threw a TON of screens at Fresno State), it has not yet worked consistently. The Raider receivers and backs are very capable of working with the ball in open space, but they don’t find themselves in open space on screen passes very often. Opposing defenses simply play close to the line of scrimmage and rally well to get to the receiver, often taking the play away before Carr can even throw it. When defenses play near the line of scrimmage to defend the screen game, they are also able to contain the run game more easily, which has led to problems described on the previous page.
NFL Spin Zone
If the Raider offense can develop an effective run game early on in games, defenses will, predictably, stack the box and run more single high coverages with man coverage on Raider wide receivers. Derek Carr has shown that he can absolutely devastate defenses in these situations and after six games has shown that he is competent to make throws anywhere on the field. He doesn’t need the screen game as a crutch, and in fact may thrive even more without it. The Raider offense, as a unit, has also shown that it is not particularly good at executing screen passes, and it may be time to do away with them altogether.
Derek Carr complied huge stats in college using the screen pass because he played against generally weak Mountain West defenses and because those generally weak Mountain West defenses often played off his very speedy wide receivers (including Devante Adams, who is now catching fake spike passes from Aaron Rodgers) because they knew what Carr could do with the deep ball. He doesn’t need to throw screen passes to succeed in the NFL, and in fact the screen game may be holding him back. When Olson and Sparano finally “started the Carr” against San Diego, he was incredibly effective. If this team is going to win, it’s going to be because the quarterback is able to make plays down the field, and that isn’t going to be accomplished by calling a dozen screen passes every game.