The Raiders didn’t score a touchdown in last week’s victory over the Chiefs, but the day wasn’t without successes for the offense.
They ran for 203 yards, the most they’ve had in a game this season, to continue an uptick from a running game that was nearly invisible in the early part of the season. They’ve averaged 4.5 yards per carry in the last five games, almost a yard more than their average in the first nine contests, and the much-maligned zone blocking system installed by offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has started to bear some fruit. According to quarterback Carson Palmer, Knapp had always told the team that they needed to be patient as the offense came together.
“We’re not going to come out and understand all the zone cuts and all the reads and have a real continuity with it up front with five guys working together,” Palmer said, via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. “He said it was going to take some time and these last couple weeks, we’ve really seen that progress come together and make consistent plays in the running game.”
Palmer says that a second year in Knapp’s scheme for him and running back Darren McFadden will “do wonders, obviously.” It doesn’t feel quite that obvious. It feels like something of a Catch-22 for the Raiders, actually.
Continuing to try to fit square pegs like McFadden and Palmer into the round holes of the Knapp offense isn’t guaranteed to work out just because of more time, but changing schemes and coordinators creates instability to a team that’s had quite enough of it over the last decade. The recent progress would lead us to go with the first option while trying to bring in more players who fit the scheme because another offseason of big changes is something Oakland needs like a hole in the head.