If you cannot score, you cannot win. While the logic is airtight, scoring appears to be one of those instances that are easier said than done for this Oakland Raiders team. Over their last two games, the Raiders have scored a total of 13 points (with 7 of them being a “garbage time” touchdown against the Chargers) while losing those games by a combined 40 points (16- and 24-point losses respectively). For those just joining the RaiderNation this year, they could find it laughable to hear that this team was 12-4 just two years ago, especially with the highly respected Jon Gruden at the helm.
While some are quick to blame Gruden, there is much more to the offensive struggles than just him. One of the biggest issues remains that Derek Carr never regained his pre-injury 2016 form. Fortunately, fans can still see that the MVP-caliber Carr is still there, hiding in his own subconscious, through quick flashes of his old confidence and play style. 2016 Carr would stand in the pocket as long as he needed to in order to get a throw off; now he is far too quick to throw the ball away or bail out into a checkdown pass. When teams know the opposing quarterback has happy feet, the entire strategy changes.
More pressure falls on to the quarterback and less pressure to deep routes to take away the checkdown. Carr under pressure without his trusty checkdown is the exact recipe for a double-digit loss. With that said, Carr still has the talent and potential to re-emerge as the franchise quarterback. Carr cannot play scared forever.
The secondary issue with Carr’s lack of confidence is how the playcalling fits his confidence level. Fans and opposing teams alike have noticed how much more comfortable Carr is throwing out of the shotgun formation. Unfortunately, Marshawn Lynch is a downhill back. Running from an almost complete standstill does not suit him. Lynch is far more effective when he starts a few yards behind Carr and can get a running start. To make matters worse, the Raiders playcalling stays static to compliment both players. Now, when the Raiders call a run play, the team typically starts in a single back or I-formation set with Carr under center. Nevertheless, for passing plays, the Raiders will typically come out in a shotgun formation and if any random fan can see this, it is guaranteed that every coach in the NFL has seen it too.
At this point in the season, the Raiders sit in a situation where the team does not have much to lose. They might as well treat these remaining games as observation for the 2019 season.
One strategy that could be interesting to see would be the pistol formation. The pistol formation is a hybrid of shotgun and single back. The quarterback starts four yards from the line of scrimmage with the running back behind him. The formation seems ideal for the team, as it still gives Carr a few steps away from the line. Plus, it would give Lynch a few yards to get his feet moving. The pistol formation appears like the best of both worlds. It would be completely inefficient to set Carr in a standard shotgun formation with Lynch.