Versatility of Raiders runningbacks will be key against Texans

October 23, 2016: Oakland Raiders Running Back DeAndre Washington (33) during the NFL game between the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/ Icon Sportswire)

In their first game earlier this season in Mexico City, Jadeveon Clowney and the Houston Texans held the Oakland Raiders to only 30 yards rushing on 20 attempts. But while the running game was held in check, the runningbacks were not.

They only managed 30 rushing yards but also put up 199 yards in the passing game.

When you consider the fact that the Raiders only had 295 yards passing against the Texans in that first matchup you realize just how big of a role the runningbacks played. They accounted for approximately two thirds of the yards put up by the offense.

Clearly the 75 yard catch and run by Jamize Olawale skews the numbers a bit, but even without that the Raiders backs played a crucial role in getting the win.

On Saturday, the Raiders will once again try to get the run game going against a strong Houston run defense. It doesn’t matter that it didn’t work last time, they have to at least try to get it going in order to take some pressure off of rookie quarterback Connor Cook. But if they can’t get the ground game going, they can still lean on the three headed monster in the backfield to help the rookie QB out.

It’s often said that the tight end is a young quarterback’s best friend. For that reason, I’m sure that the Raiders will try and get Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera involved in the game. But the theory behind a tight end being a quarterback’s best friend can be applied to running backs as well. In fact, in reality, a running back who can make yards after the catch might be a better friend than a tight end.

Typically, passes to running backs are high percentage, low risk passes. Because of that, they are also often times short passes and rely on the back gaining yards with the ball in their hands. People also frequently assume that multiple passes to your backs is a sign of a quarterback resorting to his check down in order to escape pressure.

But for the Raiders, running backs will do more than simple two to three yard routes. It’s not uncommon to see a Raiders runningback run a wheel route or a slant. Hell, it’s not even all that surprising to see a Raiders runningback lined up in the slot as a wide receiver.

In order to get the win in Houston, the Raiders will need offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to get his creative juices going and make sure Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington all get fed on Saturday.

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james arcellana

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