The Oakland Raiders run game has once again been a disappointment this season, but perhaps it isn’t as bad as it appears. Obviously, you can never judge a sport as complex as football based on stats alone, you need to watch film and use your eyes along with stats. But looking at the stats, one has to wonder if the problem with the Raiders run game is simply the team not running the ball often enough.
The eye test will tell you that the offensive line hasn’t been opening up run lanes nearly well or often enough. Far too many times this season we’ve seen defenders meeting ball carriers in the backfield before they ever had a chance to make a play. That being said, the Raiders currently find themselves averaging 4.1 yards per carry which is good enough to be tied for 15th in the league.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are 24th in the league in rushing attempts and 26th in yards per game.
When asked about not running the ball more, head coach Jack Del Rio has often pointed to the need for converting more third downs. Getting more first downs on third extends drives and gives more opportunities for the run game. The thing is, the Raiders are currently converting on 40% of their third down opportunities which is good enough for 12th in the league.
Meanwhile, during wins, the Raiders are averaging 24 carries per game. During losses, they only average 19 carries per game. Obviously the coaching staff is right to a degree in their point that sometimes the circumstances of a game dictate how much you can run the ball. For example, when you’re getting blown out, as the Raiders have a couple of times this season, you need to pass at a much higher rate in order to come back.
But there have also been times where it appeared the Raiders went away from the run game far too quickly, almost as though they freaked out the moment they fell behind and immediately went to a pass heavy offense. Given the presence of Derek Carr and how he frequently put the team on his shoulders last season you can understand the tendency. But at the same time, Carr hasn’t been the same player this season and is dealing with injuries so one has to wonder if being more patient with the run game would not only deliver more results on the ground, but also take pressure off of Carr.