Raiders' learning curve on ZBS steepest on game days


Raiders' learning curve on ZBS steepest on game days

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."

Relocation approval 'offers more clarity' when Raiders recruit future free agents

Relocation approval 'offers more clarity' when Raiders recruit future free agents

PHOENIX -- The Raiders are entering a limbo period, with just a few seasons in Oakland before relocating to Las Vegas. NFL owners formally approved a move on Monday, though the Raiders don’t want to leave the East Bay until a new stadium is ready in 2020.

While there are contingencies to leave the market early based upon how fans react to the Raiders remaining in Oakland after committing to Las Vegas, that isn’t what the Raiders want. After years of stadium uncertainty, they leave the NFL owners meetings with clarity regarding their long-term future.

General manager Reggie McKenzie believes that should help free agents considering silver and black. The uncertainty prompted questions in recent years that McKenzie can answer when recruiting veteran talent now that relocation has been approved.

“By Mark saying that the plan is for us to be in Oakland for two more years (at least), but we will be in Vegas, I think it offers more clarity,” McKenzie said. “It lets the players know. It’s better than two months ago, when everyone had questions. When you were talking to a free agent, they know we want to move but weren’t sure if it was going to pass. They didn’t know. Now they know a decision has been made by the league to let us move.”

That will help McKenzie more in the future than present. Roster turnover is high these days, meaning most currently employed by the Raiders won’t play for the home team in Las Vegas. Only David Amerson, Kelechi Osemele and Marquette King are would be under contract when the team wants to move.

The Raiders are working on extensions for Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson and Khalil Mack, with others possibly locked up down the line.

In addition to playing with Carr and Mack and for head coach Jack Del Rio, there’s another attraction to signing with the Raiders. There’s no state income tax in Nevada, meaning a contract there is worth more than the same deal in California. The Golden State generally takes 13.3 percent of significant income earned there.

There will be other issues about playing in Las Vegas, where gambling is legal, a drink can be had 24 hours per day and vices abound in a place called Sin City.

The Raiders will construct a support system to keep players focused, and are ready to handle any questions players and their families may have about an upcoming move.

“Now there are questions from the drafted guys about when they become free agents, because they might be in Vegas. That’s going to be different. There are questions that way, but it’s not going to alter the way we go after players. Some of the guys, parents and agents may have questions, but I don’t think it’s anything out of whack.”


NFL centralizes replay reviews, Del Rio wants more freedom in challenges

NFL centralizes replay reviews, Del Rio wants more freedom in challenges

PHOENIX – Fans won’t see special teams players leaping over the long snapper in an attempt to block a field goal or extra point. Seattle’s Kam Chancellor made some big plays with that technique, but won’t have the chance anymore.

The NFL outlawed that option on Tuesday as one several rule changes enacted at the league meetings.

“There are some safety concerns,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “that are legitimate.”

The NFL also centralized replay reviews, taking that power away from officials on the field. NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino and associates at the NFL’s command center will handle reviews in an effort to add consistency to important calls.

Del Rio hoped replay challenges would be expanded further, but a proposal by Seattle and Buffalo allowing coaches to challenge any play save scoring plays and turnovers, which are automatically reviewed, did not pass.

“I think there are a number of coaches who feel like, if there’s an obvious error, we should have a mechanism to correct it,” Del Rio said. “We catch most of them, so you’re talking about a small percentage. It’s hard to move the needle for such a small percentage. That’s the problem. The fact is, if it’s important enough that we’re willing to use that challenge, we’d like that right and ability. Things happen, and you don’t want to lose a big game, a game that decides whether you advance in the playoffs or make the playoffs and it’s something you could overturn, that you could challenge or change. Why not?”

Here's a list of new rules and bylaws adopted by the league on Tuesday.