Rolling into Week Three, the Raiders need to address issues on both sides of the ball. First, they face a Vikings team that loves battering opponents on the ground. As a result, the run defense needs to shut it down. On the other side of the ball, despite improved completion percentage, the offense looks occasionally stagnant. To address these, FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria and Terrance Biggs discuss solutions.
The Vikings are a run heavy team with excellent wideouts. How would you scheme for theme?
Play more man than zone, especially against the run. The Raiders can crash either left or right to help stymie the Vikings’ ground attack. Despite getting slaughtered through the air against Kansas City, the Raiders run defense is improved and the team is tackling much better. Johnathan Hankins is the beefy space eater that allows other defensive lineman and linebackers to go into seek and destroy mode.
Take the ball out of Dalvin Cook’s productive hands (and legs) and force Kirk Cousins to win the ball game. The Packers did just that and, in the end, Cousin’s couldn’t cut the mustard.
Just be wary when the Raiders go into zone (Cover 2 and 3) as it lefts the soft under belly of the defense exposed and apt to be exploited.
With Dalvin Cook, the Raiders need to stack the box. In essence, ignore Kirk Cousins passing. Granted Diggs and Thielen are talented, but Cousins needs to show that he can keep them honest. Like Ray said, playing man is the smart move. For the first time in a few years, the team can use man coverage to stick to wideouts. Additionally, upfront, sell out against the run. Cook loves to bounce outside. This is where the linebackers need to fly downhill. Stringing out the play will allow help to arrive.
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Despite completing more passes over the past 18 games, the offense occasionally sputters. Where does the fault reside?
The play-caller dials up the play, however, he’s not the one out there trying to make it work. In that sense, the offense’s inability to stay on the field is on the players. And when it comes to an offense driven by a well-compensated quarterback, the blame — for better or worse — falls on the signal caller. Derek Carr has authority and confidence this season and has flipped the script with an audible.
Look at the deep ball to Tyrell Williams in Week 1 and the Week 2 interception on the fade route. Both times, Carr felt he had the matchup that favored the Raiders and changed the play. When the pass to TW worked, great on Derek. When the pass to TW was intercepted, Gruden’s fault?
Let me be clear: HELL. NO.
That’s on Carr.
Under Gruden’s offense, Carr vastly improved his accuracy. The stats bear that out. However, he does not present the same threat of a vertical pass. When he does air it out, the results aren’t always positive. On top of that, Carr needs to make crisper redzone decisions. From finding Melvin Ingram last year to that ill-fated fade, this onus falls all on his shoulders. The Raiders can win games with execution.