When it rains, it pours. If you somehow haven’t heard already, franchise QB Derek Carr is out 2-6 weeks with a fracture in his back. Raider Nation is, of course, falling apart. However, the Raiders can win some games with EJ Manuel if he is managed properly.
When the Raiders hired new OC Todd Downing he changed the running game style from a power/gap scheme to a zone blocking scheme. This has not been very effective. A year ago the Raiders bullied the Broncos on SNF; this year we couldn’t run the ball at all. There was no major difference in personnel for the Bronco or Raider front, only a different running style. This O-line just isn’t built for zone blocking. The Raiders O-line is massive. Massive O-lines aren’t meant to zone block. Zone blocking is most effective with small front fives that have some speed. This O-line is built for a power gap scheme where they can go right at defenders and try to bury them. Jamize Olawele needs to be used more, also. He is a very good FB with and without the ball in his hands.Â For EJ Manuel to have a chance at keeping this team afloat until the return of Captain Carr, the power running game must return and be effective.
EJ Manuel can’t be asked to make a difficult throw. When he is asked to make a big time throw, he throws game clinching interceptions (see last Sunday’s game). Rhythm passing is key. Short, quick throws that protect the ball must move the chains and keep the offense on the field. Fortunately, we have Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts, and Cordarrelle Patterson who can turn easy, in-rhythm throws into big gains, when they aren’t dropping them. Screens to Washington and Richard should also be a feature in the offensive gameplan with Manuel at the helm. Downing has shown that he can design a mean screen and he will need to continue to do so.
The Raiders Defense must turn into a Top 10 defense. If the opponents score much more than 20 points it will almost certainly be a loss. Luckily, the next two weeks the Raiders play the Ravens and the Chargers at home. Joe Flacco and Philip Rivers aren’t the guys they once were. They are now turnovers waiting to happen. “Elite” Joe Flacco and “Angry” Philip Rivers have combined for 10 INTs on the young season. Coming off a solid performance in Denver, the once mocked Raiders Defense actually looks respectable. Khalil Mack is a human nightmare and the best defensive player in the league. TJ Carrie was good in coverage against Denver. Karl Joseph is a little stick of dynamite. Mario Edwards Jr. and Bruce Irvin are beginning to heat up. The only thing that has been missing is the turnovers. Reggie Nelson, who has been decent in his own right, is supposed to be a ball-hawk. The Raiders are yet to have an INT this year. This needs to change to win with Manuel.
Don’t Panic and Bide Time
The last time the Raiders panicked after a QB injury they got the bad version of Carson Palmer for a 1st AND 2nd Round Pick. I’m not suggesting the Raiders would trade for a QB but I am saying that I don’t think Collin Kaepernick or someone else is a better option than Manuel for now. For an extended time Kaepernick would be better but on the week to week basis this situation is on, it is better to stick with the QB who is familiar with your WRs and system. Also, the Raiders mustn’t rush Carr back like Ian Rapoport suggests they may on Twitter.
In 2014, #Cowboys QB Tony Romo suffered the transverse process fracture. He missed one game. #Raiders hope itâ€™s the same for Derek Carr.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 2, 2017
Romo is now out of the league and doing a fantastic job calling games.Â Romo reinjured his back in 2016. The two injuries may have not been connected but it is better to air on the side of caution with back injuries.
EJ Manuel isn’t the worst backup quarterback ever. Matt McGloin was. All jokes aside, if we return to the power running game, install a short, rhythm passing game, and play good defense, we can survive until Carr returns.
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