Last week, the Raiders had a great gameplan for thirty minutes, and it didn’t quite pan out. This week, they travel to Mile High to take on their hated division rival, the Denver Broncos. As long as the Raiders do these five things, they’ll start the season 1-1.
Oakland Raiders Week Two: Gameplan for Victory
1. Get Vertical
This sunday, Derek Carr will have Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Brandon LaFell, Seth Roberts, and Jared Cook at his disposal. As much as he seemed to enjoy dumping the ball off to Jalen Richard last week, that has to change. The game was close enough, until Carr started turning the ball over and the offense died in the third quarter. The Broncos have a scary pass rush, headlined by Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, and they registered six sacks against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks last week. If the Raiders are going to win this game, they’re going to need to score points, and they’ll need to do so by getting vertical on offense.
Every now and then, it’s okay to check down. But we saw enough of that in 2017, and it doesn’t work. Gruden wouldn’t stop talking about Carr’s arm talent, but it was rarely on display in week one. So! If the Raiders want to beat the Broncos, there are a few things we need to see.
Carr needs to try the likes of Cooper and Bryant deep. The offense needs to experiment with moving pockets and play action passes. The Raiders need to get vertical, if for no other reason, than to silence Carr’s critics, who have more and more ammunition that Oakland’s gunslinger is gun shy.
2. Commit To The Run
Marshawn Lynch only ran the ball 11 times on Monday night, and that just isn’t good enough. For all the times that Jon Gruden talked about committed to the power run, Beast Mode was nowhere to be seen in the second half. How do you open a game with a monster of a touchdown run like Marshawn’s and then completely abandon it?
Especially against this pass rush, the Raiders need to do work between the tackles. That means more carries for Lynch, a few carries for Doug Martin, and then, the occasional throw to Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington. Jon Gruden, Greg Olson, note that I said occasional, not fifteen. That’s not a joke, the tailbacks were targeted 15 times, that’s six more than all of the receivers combined.
Commit to the run, and then when Denver is lulled into a false sense of security, take the deep shot.
3. Hit Case Keenum
Everyone in Raider Nation is tired of hearing about Khalil Mack, the trade, and the resulting lack of a star pass rusher, but they have a point. The Raiders only hit Jared Goff twice and Bruce Irvin‘s sack was the only one the team registered all night. Case Keenum had 329 passing yards and three touchdowns against Earl Thomas and the new-look Seahawks secondary and they hit him five times. The Raiders didn’t have a ghost of a pass rush last week, and that has to change if they want to slow down Denver’s passing offense.
4. Elite Offensive Line Play
As mentioned above, Denver’s pass rush exploded last week against Seattle. A sack and a half came from the secondary, so not only will the pass rush be coming hard, but it’ll come from everywhere. Kolton Miller, Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, Kelechi Osemele, and Donald Penn, along with Jared Cook and Lee Smith, need to protect Carr from Denver’s pass rush at all costs.
Everything Oakland needs to do on offense leans on how well the offensive line plays. If they don’t protect Carr, he can’t get vertical. If they can’t make lanes for Lynch and the running backs, they can’t break off big gains on the ground. Usually, the Raiders win and die on Carr’s arm, but this week? It’s all on that offensive line.
5. For The Love of Al, Play. Sixty. Minutes.
If the season opener just ended at half-time, the Raiders would be 1-0, Derek Carr would be a MVP candidate, and everyone would still be on Team Chucky. However, as we all know, it’s called half-time for a reason. The Rams made adjustments, the Raiders didn’t, and everything fell apart.
If the Raiders find themselves leading at the halfway mark, they’ve gotta stay focused and finish the damn game. If the Broncos make adjustments, the Raiders have to as well. They need to stay fresh, stay aggressive, and play sixty minutes.
Al Davis didn’t say “Just Start, Baby”, after all.