Raiders' learning curve on ZBS steepest on game days

September 16, 2012, 11:21 pm
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Greg Knapp, the Raiders' new and returning offensive coordinator, compared this summer the installation of a new offense to a "start-up" business.So yeah, putting in a new West Coast Offense with a zone-blocking scheme would promote growing pains. But did you see the Raiders, with a healthy Darren McFadden, struggling this mightily to get their running game going?After rushing for 23 yards on 14 carries in a 35-13 loss to Miami on Sunday, the Raiders, who fell to 0-2, have a combined 68 yards rushing on 34 carries in two games.It might have something to do with the Raiders essentially still learning the scheme on the job. As in, in games."It's one of those things where you don't just have it, you don't just install a bunch of plays and get really good at cut-blocking, cutting the back side and giving him those cut-back lanes," said quarterback Carson Palmer. "It's something we've got to continue to work (at), and we will and we'll get better at it each practice."Guys pick up things, especially in the games because we can't cut in practices. Guys really get better at the cuts in games and we've got to continue to do it in games."Said center Stefen Wisniewski: "It's definitely going to get better. "It's not DMac's fault. It's on the O-line and the running game goes as far as we go."McFadden, meanwhile, is averaging a mere 2.1 yards per carry thus far, going for 54 yards on 26 carries. Last year, before getting injured in the season's seventh game, McFadden was leading the NFL in rushing and averaged 5.4 yards per attempt in the Raiders' then-power blocking scheme.Which begs the question asked in another space here: is the zone-blocking scheme right for McFadden's skill set?"I totally think so," Palmer said. "You can't look at these two games (and say no). He's right for any system. It really doesn't matter. But with the way he blocks, what he can do with the protections in this system, he's perfect for it. With his ability to really just put his foot in the ground and get vertical, that's what this offense is built on and we'll continue to get better up front."I believe he's 100 percent the right guy for this system."