Oakland Raiders Film Room: Week 9 (SEA)

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Mychal Rivera Can Catch!?

It’s amazing what happens when receivers actually catch the ball. Both of Rivera’s touchdowns were fantastic catches, out of properly executed routes, which utilized his body skills to make the play. When Rivera catches the ball he proves himself to be a huge weapon in Oakland’s offense, giving often shorter DB’s and slower linebackers a tough matchup.

Oakland brings out 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WRs) in a doubles formation (two eligible receivers on each side) and run fake fly sweep play-action on this pass to TE Rivera. Seattle lines up in it’s goal line nickel sub-package (4 DLs, 2 LBs, 5 DBs) with man coverage. Richard Sherman lets WR James Jones flow through on the fly-sweep action and is then assigned to the #1 receiver to that side to release on a route (outside receiver that runs a route). When Rivera makes the initial block Sherman shifts to cover RB Darren McFadden. Seattle safety DeShawn Shead (usually plays corner) is assigned to the second receiver, or help on the first receiver is there is no second (pattern recognition based assignment). He dives down to cover McFadden as well (correct decision, either way), leaving Rivera wide open in the back of the end zone when he releases after the block. Carr throws the ball high so Sherman can’t get to it and Rivera makes an excellent catch for the TD.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Late in the fourth quarter Oakland fakes RB dive out of a heavy 22 personnel (2 RB, 2 TE, 0 WR, 6 OLs) and runs Carr on the naked bootleg to find Rivera in the corner of the end zone again. Seattle brings out its heavy goal line package (5 DLs, 4 LBs, 2 DBs) and pushes hard to stop the run. Again, we see Oakland benefit from running a block-release concept with Rivera. He starts with the block, selling the run and getting Shead to completely ignore him upon his release, then breaks to the far corner of the end zone. Carr delivers the ball and suddenly Oakland is within 6 points of Seattle.

The young guys played very well against Seattle. They are what the team is about. If waiting on wins is proving to be too frustrating shift focus to watching how the young guys play. Most of the roster is signed to one or two year deals and won’t be in Oakland much longer. The guys on rookie contracts and 3-4 year deals are the keys to the future. Watch the micro battles they engage in each week. Do the young tight ends and receivers efficiently run their routes? Get open? Catch the ball? Does Gabe Jackson improve in blocking? Is he missing major assignments? What are the coverage strengths and lapses with Hayden and Carrie? How much will Mack dominate opposing offenses? These are the true signs of the Raiders‘ future success. So far this season they’ve provided pretty decent evidence that things, however slowly, might be moving in the right direction.

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