Raiders midseason report: Offense


Raiders midseason report: Offense

First-half storyline: The goal coming out of training camp was easy to see -- build a bully on offense with a dominant running game in Darren McFadden and Michael Bush and take shots downfield with Jason Campbell and the speedy, young wideouts. For much of the first half of the season, the Raiders led the NFL in rushing, and with Campbell barely being touched thanks to an improved offensive line, he was managing the game with aplomb. Then came Scott Fujita to snap Campbell's collarbone. And the injury bug to take a bite out of McFadden's right foot. The trade to acquire Carson Palmer and the signing of T.J. Houshmandzadeh may actually be necessary moves that have upgraded the roster, but they also might have upset the delicate locker room chemistry. Midway through the season, the Raiders are a team in transition, especially on offense. If it seems like the offense is going through camp again, that's because it is.

MVP: McFadden. Entering Week 7, McFadden was the NFL's leading rusher, with 610 yards. But after badly spraining his right foot on the Raiders' first series against Kansas City, sitting out the bye week and not playing against Denver, he ranks 11th. The Raiders have also dropped those two games in his absence. No disrespect to Bush, but Palmer not having the hybrid threat that is McFadden in his backfield limits his options and stalls his development in Oakland. Especially since McFadden has nine runs of 20 yards or longer -- he had 14 such bursts in 2010 -- and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry.Biggest surprise: Darrius Heyward-Bey was having a breakthrough year, leading the team in receiving with 27 catches for 434 yards and a touchdown. Both figures are already season highs for DHB. Still, he saw limited time against Denver and was targeted only once.Biggest disappointment: With McFadden and Bush already in the backfield, touches were going to be rare for Taiwan Jones so this might be unfair for the rookie. But he has not taken advantage of his limited opportunities to showcase his world-class speed to keep defenses honest.Best play: No disrespect to Campbell, but Palmer's 40-yard TD pass to Marcel Reece down the middle of the field late in the second quarter against Denver was a throw the former Raiders QB would not have made. Few NFL quarterbacks could have accomplished it, actually. Palmer threaded the needle with the throw, putting it where only Reece, with a linebacker draped all over him, could have caught it.Worst play: Having already given Kansas City a look at Michael Bush setting up in the Wildcat with an empty backfield on 4th-and-goal at the Chiefs' 1-yard line early in the second quarter, coach Hue Jackson stayed with the same play after calling a timeout. Bush was stuffed for no gain. So rather than pulling within 14-7 to potentially alter the rest of the game, Oakland endured a 28-0 shutout loss.Key to the second half: Palmer getting more comfortable with his receivers' tendencies, and the offensive line reclaiming the continuity that carried it through the first six games.

Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence


Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence

Trent Richardson is reportedly in some trouble.

Richardson was arrested on Thursday night for domestic violence, according to TMZ Sports.

The former running back was taken into custody on a third degree charge, the report states, with bail being set for $1,000.

The arrest was made in Hoover, Alabama.

The Browns selected Richardson with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft.

He was traded to the Colts in 2013 and played for Indianapolis in 2014.

He signed with the Raiders in 2015 and appeared in three exhibition games, but did not make the team.

The 26-year old was cut by the Ravens last August.

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Derek Carr and Todd Downing are tight. A strong friendship was forged between the Raiders’ franchise quarterback and his position coach these past two seasons, one that should help the Raiders now that Downing will call plays.

The Raiders new offensive coordinator will use his young signal caller as a resource formulating a game plan. Carr has a bright offensive mind – he called his own plays in high school and in college at times – and Downing plans to use it to put his quarterback in positions to succeed.

Carr’s influence in preparation will expand over previous seasons under coordinator Bill Musgrave.

“Where I see him needing a little bit more command is just being able to share his thoughts of game plans,” Downing said Wednesday in a conference call. “Being a student of the game, as he already is, but vocalize what he likes and doesn’t like. I think my relationship with him is something that’s going to give him the opportunity to voice his opinions. I look forward to him really taking charge of expressing his thoughts on the offense.”

Carr has always had freedom to adjust at the line of scrimmage, but that could increase with Downing in charge. Derek Carr’s brother Davis Carr told 95.7 The Game as much a few weeks ago, a topic Downing addressed on Wednesday.

“There’s been a lot made about his command at the line of scrimmage,” Downing said. “There’s certainly going to be opportunities for Derek to do that. That’s not something I feel we’ll even have to get into until we’re much further into this offseason and into training camp.”

Downing had opportunities to interview with other teams this offseason, but head coach Jack Del Rio wanted to pair Downing and Carr together. The young duo have similar personalities and a strong working relationship based on a love of the game.

“My relationship with Derek starts there,” Downing said in Wednesday interview on 95.7-FM. “We both love coming to work each day and respect the heck out of each other. When you have that kind of relationship with any coach, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Derek’s the leader of our franchise. In my opinion, he’s the best young quarterback in football. We’re fortunate to have him. Why wouldn’t I be in a good mood every time I am around him?”

Carr made great progress working with Downing the past two years, and was an MVP candidate in 2016. Downing sees continued room for growth and refinement as next season approaches.

“I think Derek made big strides in 2016, just in terms of his command of the offense, being the field general, being able to get through progressions more efficiently,” Downing said. “His footwork took big strides. I certainly want him to remain focused on all of those attributes. You don’t want to feel like you’ve arrived in a certain area of your game and then have it go backwards when the next season starts. Certainly, I want him focused on all of those.”