Check out this article from the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s describes what the Oakland Raiders want to do offensively, and also tells that they want to start this re-commitment against the Atlanta Falcons.
Contrary to recent trends in the NFL, the Raiders want to run the ball more. Their offensive line struggles on obvious passing downs, and an obvious way to offset some of the pass rush is to make a commitment to running the ball. You can make that type of commitment when your best offensive player is your dynamic running back, and you have receivers who can burst down the field. Run effectively, play-action off the run, and chuck the ball deep on those passes, and you have a very good formula to win football games.
That’s exactly what the Raiders haven’t been able to accomplish so far this season. Darren McFadden, the Raiders star runningback is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry. It’s hard to make opposing defenses respect the run when you don’t do it very effectively. But Oakland isn’t going to just give up on the concept. They are going to continue pounding the ball and attempt to re-discover a potent run game.
This is a major reason why the Raiders have been unsuccessful offensively in 2012. They have very fast receivers, but those receivers are somewhat limited in their route running. Carson Palmer doesn’t have much time to sit back in the pocket and wing the ball around. That’s because they cant run the ball, despite a zone-blocking scheme implemented this year, and their offensive line isn’t very good.
Obviously the Falcons haven’t been very good against the run so far in 2012. They’ve been gashed badly from time to time, but the most important thing to note is that while they have allowed yardage, they haven’t simply allowed runningbacks to waltz into the end-zone. More often than not they find a way to make a stop and force a punt of field goal.
The Falcons need to make absolutely sure that they keep the Raiders from running the ball effectively early. If Oakland can’t generate a rush, they can’t play-action.
Even the offense can get in the fray and help the defense out in a big way. As a matter of fact, they might have they biggest hand in helping stop the run game. The Atlanta offense needs to come out of the gates on fire. They need to drive all the way down the field and into the end-zone (a field goal isn’t good enough) and get an early lead. And they need to continue to do that the first couple times they get the football. If they can get the Raiders in an early hole, they will be able to force Oakland’s hand from a play-calling standpoint. The Raiders will be forced to throw the ball a lot more, and when they are one-dimensional, they will be predictable. They the Falcons defense can really step up and make good things happen.
So the Atlanta Falcons main responsibility is to de-rail the run. Secondly, the Atlanta offense needs to put Oakland in a deficit early so as to make their offense one dimensional. If those two things happen, I think the chances are very good that the Falcons win this game.