This piece is the third in a series of pieces in which I try to predict the moves of the Raiders in the 2013 season. In my first two, I predicted changes to the coaching staff and changes to the defense. Now, here are my predictions for the Raiders offense in 2013
ZBS is retained
“I think the zone running scheme is the toughest running scheme in football. I think with…the way that they can stretch you side to side and get you running and then find a crease, turn it north and south with the pads square is going to be a good thing for us from an offensive standpoint. It is a tough scheme and it is not just the zone running scheme. It is the way it is taught in this system has been productive for a long time and so it has always given us trouble…In my mind, it’s the best scheme to run the football that there is.”
These were Raiders head coach Dennis Allen’s comments about how much a believer he is in the blocking system that he brought back to Oakland along with offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.
As I’ve written in a previous predictions piece, I think the likelihood of Knapp returning next year is good. Since I published that article two weeks ago, the Raiders offense had looked worse and worse and they have not scored a touchdown since that article was posted. I’m not yet ready to recant my prediction but this week is certainly crucial to Knapp’s bid to return next year, I think.
Regardless of whether he returns, however, I predict the zone blocking scheme stays. Allen’s quotes, above, are a testimony to how strongly he feels about the zone blocking scheme. He’s a defensive minded coach so he is coming from the standpoint of what he would least like to defend against.
While I think it’s more than possible that Knapp goes I do not see Allen completely scrapping the zone system. After all, zone blocking definitely does work. It’s being used in a number of teams in the league right now. If Allen believes, as he states, that zone blocking is “the toughest” and “the best” scheme that exists for running the ball, he’ll likely not leave it so quickly.
“The way that he's come in, the way that he's worked, the way that he's taking control of the situation, the way that he's been a leader on this football team, that's been extremely impressive. Here's a guy that's been in the league for a long time, he's obviously seen several different types of systems and the way that you call plays going all the way back to his days at USC…I couldn't have asked for a better situation in a quarterback than getting a veteran like Carson and the way that he's handled himself..."
These words are also Allen’s, talking about how much he liked Palmer upon getting the Raiders head coaching job. He has said many other complimentary things since, as well, especially noting Palmer’s leadership and his tendency to take blame upon himself for the offense’s failings.
Palmer is signed for next year and the Raiders are unlikely to go with either Leinart or Pryor as their starter next season – Leinart because he’s never shown he can be “the guy” and because he’s a free agent and Pryor because just a week ago Dennis Allen said he wasn’t ready to even be a backup.
That leaves either Palmer or someone new. If the Raiders cut Palmer they will be on the hook for guaranteed money anyway. Plus, Reggie McKenzie, Allen and offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp and many different players have talked about how good Palmer has been in the locker-room, in the huddle and on the field. I don’t think he’s going anywhere.
And that probably won’t bother Terrelle Pryor, if he isn’t traded. He said that Palmer was teaching him the nuances of the QB position and called him a father/brother figure.
Darrius Heyward-Bey will no longer be a starter
Here are some fun statistics – Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey have, as of week 16, an almost identical number of snaps on offense. Heyward-Bey has 749 snaps and Darrius Moore has 741 on offense, to date. They are, by far, the most snaps for anyone on the team listed as wide receiver as both are more than 200 snaps above the next highest player, Rod Streater.
However, although the snap numbers are fairly close, what they’ve done with those snaps is not. Moore is the most targeted player on the team, with 109 targets on the year. Heyward-Bey has substantially less with only 76 targets, more than 40 less.
This indicates that Palmer has a clear preference as to who he wants to throw the ball to and it’s not usually Heyward-Bey.
Also telling is that Streater, who as I said has almost 200 less offensive snaps, has almost identical numbers to Heyward-Bey. Here are their numbers for analysis:
Player Snaps Targets Recs Yards TDS
Heyward-Bey 749 76 39 593 4
Streater 535 68 35 507 3
I don’t know if Streater will take DHB’s starting spot although I think that is the most likely scenario right now but I do think DHB is unlikely to retain his starting spot with lagging production.
It’s worth noting that Moore is no guarantee to remain a starter, either, but he’s got the confidence of Palmer and he remains a more consistent player than former top ten pick Heyward-Bey.
Stay tuned for future predictions pieces as I expect to go into more detail on free agents that are likely to be retained or not and thoughts on what positions the Raiders may target in the draft as well.
For more thoughts or to ask questions, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews
DHB's Cap hit in 2013: 10.6 M, Free Agent in 2014, cannot run precise routes, catches with body instead of hands, inconsistent , too many drop balls.
Great article by Jerry McDonald in Contra Costa Times "Oakland Raiders: More changes ahead, just not big ones""That means that players with salaries that appear to exceed their production are candidates to be traded or released"
I doubt DHB will lose his starting job.
No other receiver has stepped up. Moore hasn't been that great himself.
@AsherMathews why do we want palmer back thats 13 mill in cap space and he obviously hasnt done anything to help us improve #timetomoveon
@BHelton7885 Guess it depends how you look at it. You're clearly looking at wins. I think it's more complicated, would say he is valuable
Raider's 2013 Offense
LT: Luke Joeckel
Why a new left tackle? Luke Joeckel is a prototype LOT (6-6,310) with 5.0 speed. He is the best LOT and lineman in the draft, comparable to Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins. He moves well with speed rushers,is an excellent run blocker and dominant pass protector, he is athletic which makes him a good fit a ZBS scheme. By moving Veldheer to RT, the Raiders replace a major liability :free agent Khalif Barnes.
Why a new right guard (Bergstrom)? I believe Knapp leaves and both guards Brisiel and Carlisle, who are ineffective also leave (Brisiel is cut).
Why move Wisniewski back to left guard? I think he is a better guard than center and this move will solidify the left side of the OL and improve the running game and pass protection .
Why Slowey to center? Unless the Raiders draft a center he is currently on the practice squad and a center in college.
Why Goodson as starting RB? He and Stewart looked good in the ZBS. Also the Raiders want to trade Darren McFadden Why? Cap hit in 2013: 7.8 M, Free Agent in 2014, does not fit ZBS scheme, too many injuries.
Why Criner as starting WR? A big body receiver that has excellent size for the West Coast Offense. Also, Raiders want to trade Darrius Heyward-Bey Why? Cap hit in 2013: 10.6 M, Free Agent in 2014, cannot run precise routes, catches with body instead of hands, inconsistent with too many drop balls.
Why Gorden to TE? A stop gap, the Raider may retain Myers but will look to draft a taller TE like Nick Kasa Colorado. Why? Good size for a TE (6-6,260) with (4.6) speed.
1. I really hope Palmer is not back next season! Too many bad passes and turnovers from a veteran QB for my liking. Sure he has not been as bad this year as what he was last season, but I just think he has caused us to loose more than win. Most of his yards are in garbage time after we have fallen behind and need to play catch!
2. I do not know this for sure, but could maybe those numbers of DHB be skewed by DHB being kept in for a lot more snaps when the team is running the ball due to his better run blocking? Also I cannot put much blame on DHB for not being targeted as much. In saying this I would love to see a lot more of Streater and Criner next season.
3. If the ZBS is retained, then McFadden needs to go! These two just do not go together. I think seeing the way Reece, Goodson and even Stewart have performed behind this line should be all the evidence needed.
@AsherMathews next year will be as long as this year. We might as well adopt a 2nd team. Sick if the losing. We are the joke of the NFL.
I kept my mouth shut on Knapp for 15 games but after what i saw against jags. IF higher powers can't see the deficient offense. I am a loss for words
As alwyas, detailed and logical. Knapp maybe smart, but cant call plays period...gotta go...DHB will be traded or relegate to backup, no longer a statrter UNLESS he finally learns to catch withhis hands in the offseason. Palmer starts and another QB will replace Leinart to compete with TP or the BU QB in 2013
@AsherMathews @tfds I'm a teacher & I have coached. Teaching = coaching & from where I stand, Knapp does not appear to be a good teacher.
@AtomicMexican I agree w/ you about coaching and teaching. In all fairness, though, it may be the OL coach's fault over Knapps.
@AsherMathews Without a doubt, but Knapp is calling the plays. They should both let go. DA has the wrong people for the job.
«@AsherMathews Posted today - My predictions for the Raiders' 2013 offense: http://t.co/bnQTzVav via @TFDS»it better be knapless