ALAMEDA — One of the more questionable sequences for the Raiders Sunday in Nashville came on their second drive. After Marshawn Lynch gained the necessary one yard on 4th-and-1 from the 3-yard line, Derek Carr threw three straight passes intended for Amari Cooper. Each fell incomplete, and Oakland settled for a 20-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead.
It’s not the first time common assumption would be to give Lynch the ball on the doorstep (just ask Seahawks fans), but this decision to throw obviously didn’t have the same repercussions as Pete Carroll’s in the Super Bowl.
On Thursday, Raiders’ offensive coordinator Todd Downing offered his justification for why he chose to target Cooper three times instead of feed Lynch again.
“I certainly look at every play and wonder if that’s the best position I could’ve put the offense in to have success,” Downing said. “I look at that whether it’s 3rd-and-goal from the 2 or the first play of the game. That whole sequence – I won’t reveal too much with you – but there was certainly thoughts to run the ball there.
“What (Tennessee) did defensively kind of changed our approach and we had some built-ins because of that, but we’re really comfortable as a staff with the gameplay we put together for the red zone.”
Oakland’s running back rotation
There was clear emphasis on keeping Lynch fresh for the fourth quarter, when he played the role of closer against the Titans. He remained on the sideline for the entire second quarter, delegating running responsibilities to Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.
Both backups each only ran twice for four yards on the Raiders’ first drive of the second quarter. On Oakland’s second drive in the quarter, neither received the ball with only 43 seconds left before halftime. Carr passed four times, setting up a Giorgio Tavecchio 52-yard field goal as time expired.
Lynch ran 18 times for 76 yards (4.2 yards per carry) against Tennessee, while Richard and Washington combined for an uninspiring eight carries and 26 yards (3.3 YPC). Still, Downing feels comfortable using his second- and third-stringers – he even called them starting-caliber backs – to spare Lynch before crunch time.
“Having fresh legs in the fourth quarter, especially for a veteran like Marshawn, really plays to our advantage,” Downing said. “It’s something we hope we can continue to do throughout the year.
“There’s no real plan where we’re on a rep count or anything like that. It’s just a matter of rotating them enough where we can feel like we’re getting the best version of those guys when we play.”
Stopping the run
The Titans ranked third in the NFL last season in total rushing yards (2,187) and boasted the league’s third-best rusher in DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 1,287 yards. With another year under Derrick Henry’s belt, that two-headed attack figured to pose problems for the Raiders on Sunday.
Oakland held the Titans to only 95 yards on the ground, however, with Murray (44 yards on 12 carries) and Henry (25 yards on six carries) held in check. The most effective rusher on the day was quarterback Marcus Mariota, who averaged 12 yards per rush on three carries and scored on a 10-yard scramble.
“We really felt like it was important to take that away from them and make them one-dimensional,” Oakland defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said of stopping the run against Tennessee. ” … If they rush for under 100 yards, they didn’t win as many games. They were 0-14, something like that. Stopping the run was really important to us … We felt that we accomplished that.”
Up next is the Jets, whose backfield features veterans Bilal Powell and Matt Forte. Raiders’ coach Jack Del Rio highlighted the pair Wednesday when asked what challenges the Jets pose. New York ranked 12th in total rushing yards last season, setting up Sunday as another chance for the Raiders to stop a proven backfield.
Right tackle not set in stone yet
When Vadal Alexander spared Marshall Newhouse at right tackle to begin the second quarter, he played a role in Carr getting sacked on consecutive plays to end the drive. On 2nd down, Wesley Woodyard evaded Alexander and Richard before taking Carr down for a loss of 5. On the next play, Derrick Morgan beat Alexander to force a punt.
Newhouse played 57 snaps and Alexander only seven against the Titans, but Downing called the right-tackle competition an “ever-evolving situation” when asked if Newhouse had cemented himself.
“Marshall has played really well. I’ll leave it at that with you,” Downing said. “He’s certainly done a great job … has warranted a lot of playing time. We’ll see how that all develops, but we’re happy with what he’s done.”
All Credit Goes To This Website: Source link