Oakland Raiders Expanded Their Spread Concept

The Oakland Raiders need a lot of help and a little bit of luck to make the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean their fans have nothing to be happy about. The development of their young quarterback and the run-pass option has been a positive this season. Ted Nguyen shows how the Raiders expanded their spread concept in their Week 13 matchup with this Kansas City Chiefs.

After reviewing the tape of the Oakland Raiders’ Week 13 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, it was clear Raiders’ Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave composed an excellent game plan. Aside from two drives in the second quarter, he was aggressive and out-coached Bob Sutton (Chief’s DC) by effectively mixing short passes, shoots, under center runs, zone reads, and run/ pass options (RPOs). The game wasn’t perfect, but he showed growth as a play-designer and play-caller in the spread system by calling more RPOs and expanding his RPO series. However, Derek Carr‘s uncharacteristically careless day with the football ultimately doomed the offense and significantly hurt the Raiders’ playoff chances.

New RPO Plays

The Raiders are lined up in trips to the top of the screen with Clive Walford singled up in a tight split to the bottom of the screen. Musgrave probably saw, during film study, that the corner plays outside leverage on tight splits and essentially takes himself out of the play by alignment because it is very difficult to play the slant from that position. That leaves only the backside inside linebacker to wall off any inside routes. Carr is going to read the backside ILB to decide whether he is going to hand off the sweep or throw the slant to Walford. To the trips side, Carr also has a shoot with two blockers option that he could throw if his pre-snap read tells him he has a numbers advantage.

RPO outside zone

Even though Daniel Sorensen, the linebacker in the orange square, opens up his hip towards the slant, his run read causes him to hesitate and Carr is able to fit the ball in the window for a nice gain.RPO outside zone 2

The next play was the most frequently used play against the Chiefs. The Raiders ran a bubble screen on the frontside with an inside zone that could become a zone read depending on the front. Carr’s pre-snap read is the bubble screen and if he feels he has a numerical advantage he’s going to snap the ball and throw to the screen. If he doesn’t like what he sees he will run the inside zone or zone read.RPO Zone Key 1

Lee Smith, the Raider’s best blocking tight end, is attached to the line giving the Raider’s a serious numbers advantage. They have eight offensive players against six defenders in the box, so they do not run zone read. Instead they block everyone in the box and Latavius Murray finds the cutback for a 35-yard gain.RPO Zone Key 1 (2)

As we saw last week, spread concepts like the zone read and RPOs were much more productive than traditional under center runs:

Play Type: Attempts: Yards: Average:
Run/Pass Option 10 71 7.1
Under-Center Runs 14 52 3.7

Needs Improvement

Expanding the spread run concepts in the playbook has been effective, but the execution could improve. Simply providing the quarterback with multiple options on one play isn’t enough, as he still has to make the right decision.

Here the Raiders’ are running the same RPO concept with the inside zone or zone read packaged with a bubble screen on the front side as mentioned above. However, the corner covering the bubble screen is ten yards back. When quarterbacks count defenders playing the bubble screen, they usually do not count a defender eight yards or deeper because it will take the defender too much time to make up the ground. Therefore, this can be considered a 2-on-1 situation. Carr could have thrown the screen and got decent yardage out of it if Seth Roberts executed the block from the slot.

Carr Keep

Carr may have thought that the strong safety was going to beat Robert’s block and decided that he was going to run the zone. Earlier in the game, the Chiefs were in a six-man box and the Raiders ran an inside zone without reading a defender, but the Chiefs adjusted and went into a Tuff front with seven in the box. The offense also adjusted and the blocking scheme changed into a zone read, leaving the backside defensive end, Tamba Hali, unblocked for Carr to read. Hali crashed and made the tackle. The correct decision was keeping the ball, but he has been reluctant to all season.

Carr Keep 2

It has been interesting watching an old-school pro-offense guy like Musgrave transition to a wide open spread attack. He certainly has been showing growth and an open mind by adding these college concepts to his playbook. They already have paid dividends, but the Raiders, again, are going to have to work through their growing pains and learn from their mistakes. Carr’s three interceptions were primarily a young quarterback trying to make too many plays, and prior to this game he hasn’t had a three-interception game since high school. I believe that he and the offense will bounce back from this game. It will be interesting to see what the Raiders offense can do against the league leading Denver defense.

Follow Ted on Twitter @RaidersAnalysis

Inside The Pylon covers the NFL and college football, reviewing the film, breaking downmatchups, and looking at the issues, on and off the field.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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