The Oakland Raiders did a nice job Monday night illustrating what about 30 hours of work between Sunday night and Tuesday afternoon can look like when it all comes together on the field.
In that game against Houston, fullback Jamize Olawale caught a 75-yard touchdown pass. Running back Jalen Richard had a 17-yard TD reception. Throw in Latavius Murray and Raiders backs accounted for 11 receptions for 199 yards and two of their three touchdowns.
They had 325 receiving yards and no touchdowns in the first nine games.
They obviously saw something going in and (offensive coordinator) Bill Musgrave took advantage, isolating and creating mismatches, which is the payoff for all of those hours putting together a game plan. It really is amazing how much they can do.
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When they start, every good coordinator that I’ve been around has a vault of plays and matchup stuff that they can go to and there are some that are “gotta-have-its” every week that they can hang their hat on. That’s the majority of your stuff. You might move a guy around, shift and motion to gain a matchup on someone, but for the most part more than 50 percent of it is stuff that you just have to have every week.
Then I would say that maybe 25 percent is stuff you’ve seen from other teams. It’s a copycat league. Everyone runs the same stuff, and if you show a weakness on film, they’ll exploit it. In the case of the touchdown by Richard, they were just trying to match up with him because they saw something. They saw the Texans get beat on that play by Detroit and the Raiders went to it themselves, putting Richard in just to make that play.
Until the Texans fix that, the next team they play is going to do the same thing. That film doesn’t lie. Every coordinator sees it.
The offensive coordinators, I don’t know when they sleep. I don’t know when they rest because after each practice they have to see what plays worked.
The last part of it is new stuff, stuff that you’ve shown. But guess what, we’re doing the exact opposite and it’s going to look exactly the same.
A really good coordinator is going to have that ratio where it’s 50 percent stuff that we do every week, 25 percent of it is going to be stuff that they (opposing teams) are not ready for and 25 percent is stuff that they’ve been beaten with the past couple of weeks.
That coordinator is not going to get much sleep. On a road game, I’ve seen coaches get off the plane and go straight to the office. So, Sunday, they start game-planning, and I’d say from when the game is over, about 6 o’clock, 7 o’clock, it’s basically all night. I’d say there are at least 20 hours of prep to get to Monday night and that’s only to get 80 percent to 90 percent of the game plan in. Then they’re still doing stuff Tuesday, so there’s another 6 o’clock-to-10 o’clock day.
You could put in 30 good hours on it from the end of that last game until you get that game plan in for the next week, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Teams that come out after the half and play well, that’s all coaching. There’s no rah-rah speech that’s going to get you open against two-deep, man underneath, if you’re running the wrong route concepts.
The offensive coordinators, I don’t know when they sleep. I don’t know when they rest because after each practice they have to see what plays worked. They will have to gut something that was in the game plan because what they saw on film and on the practice field looked terrible, so they drop those plays out, and you fine-tune it to where you get what you want by game day.
Even then it’s still a work in progress. On Sunday, you could show up and they could completely flip the script and play a completely different defense that you’re not prepared for, so you have to have answers not only for stuff that you’ve seen but stuff that you might not have seen. That’s always the fun part, where it goes into coaching and adjustments.
Teams that come out after the half and play well, that’s all coaching. There’s no rah-rah speech that’s going to get you open against two-deep, man underneath, if you’re running the wrong route concepts. I’m a big believer in coaching and halftime adjustments and what they’re able to do before it’s too late, before you turn on the film on Monday and go, “Oh, man, I wish we had done this or I wish we had done that.”
That’s why you see coaches with mattresses in their (meeting) rooms and in their offices. Coach (Tom) Coughlin, he had actually built a nice little bedroom for himself up there.
It’s a dedication that, really, a lot of people aren’t ready for. It’s not an easy deal. It’s a difficult task. but it is fun to watch on Sunday. If you have a good coordinator, you better hang on to him. He’s putting in a lot of hours beyond those when he is just standing on the sidelines on Sunday, that’s for sure.
Question of the week
From Jeffrey Lare: If you were a starting quarterback today, what team’s offense would you want to run and why if you were going up against your brother and the Raiders?
If I could pick any offense, I think at this point in my ex-career I would choose one where I had total freedom at the line of scrimmage, so something similar to what New England runs. Tom Brady at this point, he has every check, every play is available to him at the line and he has seen every defense; he understands strengths and weaknesses. I would probably want a coordinator who would give me two or three plays in the huddle, suggestions based on the formation. I would want to get up to the line and use my cadence to get them to tip their hand somehow and then get in the right play.
That’s the best. When you’re a young quarterback, it’s nice to have it all kind of laid out there for you and it’s pretty simple; you just go through a read progression. But as you get older and you get more understanding of the system and what teams are trying to do to you, it’s nice to have a creative offensive coordinator who will give you some different formations and different matchups. You never want to be handcuffed at the line of scrimmage and the more freedom I would have at this point the better.
It’s basically a chess game between you and the defensive coordinator and maybe the middle linebacker or the strong safety, whoever is lining guys up. I love the times when the quarterback will check, the linebacker will check the defense and the quarterback will check back and run the play. It’s a fun game within the game. It’s not something you can do early on – you don’t see a lot of young quarterbacks doing it. A lot of times quarterbacks won’t get that freedom just because the play caller (on the coaching staff) doesn’t trust that the quarterback will make the right decision. They have to kind of design it for them. If you can get that freedom, it’d be nice to have. It would be a lot of fun.
If you’re going to ask who would win, I’d have to go with the Raiders. We don’t have enough in the tank. I’m too old; my knee hurts. I’d be 7 yards deep right behind the center so it wouldn’t be hard for Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack to find me. We would try to get some things done, but I think I’d take the Raiders in that one.
David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.
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