Raiders need to fix three-and-outs

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11: Richard Seymour #92 of the Oakland Raiders defends against the New York Giants on October 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Raiders 44-7. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

I know this team has had a lot of problems. Like bad players, a coaching carousel, a crazy GM/owner, bad schedules…and whatever else I’m leaving out. However, I contend that the biggest problem with this team in 2009 was the massive amounts of three-and-out series’ produced by the offense. I’m quite sure the defense was highly offended.

Take the New York Giants game for example. The Giants opened the game with a 14-play drive for a touchdown that ate eight minutes off the game clock. Now for anyone who has ever played or watched enough football, eight minutes of game clock time is actually more like half an hour of activity on the field.

In my opinion, the Raiders defense made the Giants offense work for every single yard on that opening drive. They ended up losing that series, but they proved that the points would not come easily for the Giants offense. If they wanted to score in this game, they would have to work their way through that stingy defense on that day. While the Giants did end the drive by punching it into the endzone, they were having a very tough time getting it going on the ground up to that point. The Raiders defense was forcing the Giants offense to pass, where QB Eli Manning would’ve been a bit of a sitting duck(due to a foot injury) had it continued.

And then the predictable happened. The first play of the Raiders’ opening drive is a handoff to Michael Bush off left tackle. He dashes ahead with a full head of steam for seven yards. So at this point in the game, if you rewind it and listen closely enough, the Raider Nation says in unison, ‘Watch them pass twice.’ Alas, how well we know this team Nation.

The Raiders pass two consecutive plays after that, missing both targets. They end up punting the ball back to the Giants so the previously 14-play-engaged and exhausted defense can take the field again without much rest. The Giants first drive is fourteen plays and the Raiders first drive is three…pathetic.

Raiders three and out…Giants score another touchdown…Raiders sack, fumble…the first of many…Giants score again. Final score 44-7 Giants. And guess who scores the only touchdown– Michael Bush, who opened the game for the Raiders with a nice gainer on the ground.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11: Michael Bush #29 of the Oakland Raiders runs the ball against the New York Giants on October 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

What can the Raiders do to remedy the problem; which is undoubtedly the offense moving the ball? The obvious answer is to run the damn football. Seriously, seven yards on first down and then you pass twice, who is calling the plays here? Oh yeah, Tom Cable. But isn’t he supposed to be an offensive line coach? Aren’t they supposed to like running the football down the other team’s throat? Sounds like a wolf in sheep’s clothing to me.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11: Head Coach Tom Cable and JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders talk in between plays during the game on October 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Raiders offense is a complex problem that requires a complex solution. According to Idiagram.com:

“Complex problems are uncertain because they do not provide us with reliable quatntitative data on which to base our decision. There is a vacuum of solid evidence into which can rush our most troublesome weaknesses as human individuals.

  • Biases
  • Systemic-errors
  • Over-simplification
  • Snap judgements
  • Short sightedness
  • Wishful thinking

Though we can never exercise these demons fromour thinking, by understanding how they work, and by engaging in a process of thoughtful and genuine inquiry, we can begin to recognize these foibles and minimize their influence.”

So what does it all mean?

It means that the problem cannot be absolved by removing or replacing one piece of the puzzle. There are many factors causing the problem, and they must identify what they all are in order to fix or eliminate them.

The complex problem that the team needs the most work on is converting third downs into first downs.

This is a complex problem because it is due to bad play calling, bad quarterbacking, dropped passes, lack of successful blocking, lack of vision by the halfbacks as well as the ability to hold onto the ball and not fumble, and probably more that don’t come to mind currently.

This is not a one part problem hence it is not a one part solution.

May 19, 2010; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson at organized team activities at the Oakland Raiders practice facility. Photo via Newscom

Meanwhile, if the Raiders can figure out the solutions to these problems then things will become drastically better for their team. They are very talented players, but they are very young players. They have a lot to learn and a lot of growing up to do before they can start talking about playoffs. They need to get their heads on straight and play to their abilities. If they do these things, their potential will be reached. They will go from being a group of busts to a group that is busting heads and running up the score.

Maybe they should take Wednesday and Thursdays practices and go first team offense against first team defense all day long. Allow the defense to take their aggression towards the offenses sloppy play out on the group that deserves it. Really, who cares about injuries at this point, what are they like 20-80 over the last seven years? It might be good for them. If they continue to go down this path, then the locker room will split and Tom Cable will lose his team. That will be worse than the loss of any game in the past 100-plus games.

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