Let's break down the 'Offense' (WR's)


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Aug 30, 2005
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Crap. Another season tits up. Another bust. Another waste of getting ready and failing. So where is the team offensively and what needs to be done. Here are some thoughts on the wide receivers:

Wide Receivers:

Well I think we're in pretty good shape here. Moss is Moss and hopefully he'll recover and get this injury bug out of the way. I like Porter BUT he's just so damn inconsistent. I wish he'd just play his game and stop worrying about what everybody else is doing. He's got all the physical tools but the gray matter between his ears seems to go haywire most of the time. And just when you're ready to say screw him he comes up with 8 for 145! Go Figure. Doug Gabriel isn't spectacular but steady and he's able to make plays. The big question mark is Ronald Curry...can the man come back from another achilles injury? Odds seems to be against him but I sure hope so. Johnnie Morant is a guy I love. Unfortunately I guess the coaching staff doesn't feel the same way. The kid was just short of awesome in the pre-season...maybe we have another Kenny Shedd on our hands. Even Alvis Whitted has his moments.

What I really think is that the WR's have been hampered by the offense itself. Terrible play calling. Not only I but most everybody has a good understanding of what the Raiders will do in the passing game. Worse yet they have a good understanding of what the Raiders will do on any given play. That's not cool.

One Jerry Porter radio interview after the Miami game told us that Turner tells the QB to run a play. Don't audible unless the moon collides with earth. You could feel the tenseness in Porter's voice you felt the frustration. And what is it with the 7 step drops -- every single time? Is that not poor coaching? How about a three or five step quick slant to Moss or Porter? How 'bout that? Nope we'll drop back seven steps no matter what and try and find Moss on a 50 yard up. Not working. I put that on the coaching staff. The team is just not imaginative and the play book is totally vanilla.

So to sum up my views I think we have the talent (in spite of Randy's lousy route running). The offense needs to be more creative and less predicitable in the passing game.

So no need to use draft picks or FA loot on the WR's. We have a good stable of players that are IMO being used improperly. How's it gonna change? You tell me.
CrossBones said:
So no need to use draft picks or FA loot on the WR's. We have a good stable of players that are IMO being used improperly. How's it gonna change? You tell me.

Let's start here. I agree to a point. Here's what I see instead:

Route runners:

Speed guys:
Williams (if you consider him a WR)

That's the essence of our problems at WR. Our only route runner is down and out. That's a big problem.

Do you remember the early days of Tim Brown's career? We had Fernandez, Gault, and Lofton as the primary guys and Tim Brown as the 3rd down guy. Play after play Schroeder would burn passes (or we'd otherwise kill a drive) and we'd need a 3rd down play. Everyone knew we were passing to Tim Brown, but no-one could stop it.

Curry was becoming that kind of guy. A pure athlete who was learning to be a receiver.

Just like Fernandez, Gault, and Lofton, the rest of our receivers run S routes. In other words, they round their corners and aren't good at making sharp cuts.

In my analysis, this is the real problem with our receiving corps. Since these guys only separate with speed, it's easier for fast corners to keep up with them. Against a zone, they're more likely to get open because the DB's will be sitting and will have to react faster to their speed. So teams don't tend to run a pure zone against us, they tend to man up on the receivers and let the safeties float in a zone, like N.E. did against Moss - CB outside shade man cover FS deep inside, SS shallow inside. Moss was frustrated all day because he couldn't get open against that trio, and Collins had to stop looking that way. Of course with both safeties on one side, N.E. had to man up on the other side, and kept the CB inside of Porter to force Collins to throw over and subsequently overthrow him.

So while our WR corps is good at getting open deep or on stop routes, they're not generally good in short spaces or on the underneath stuff.

So any questions as to why we use seven-step drops and such should fall right on the underneath abilities of our receivers.

Really, if Coach Turner wanted to use a 5 or 3 step drop and a quick slant, our guys wouldn't be open, and having Collins that much closer to pressure would mean he was that much closer to disaster.

So what do we need to do?

1) Get better protection.
2) Get Curry back or find a route runner somewhere.

I like Morant too. He's probably the closest thing to a route runner we have in our speed receivers, but his size prevents him from becoming that good at changing directions. He's great for a guy his size, but he'll never cut like Timmy could because his legs are just too long. And let's never think of him in terms of a Harrison or Tory Holt, etc.

CrossBones said:
Crap. Another season tits up. Another bust. Another waste of getting ready and failing. So where is the team offensively and what needs to be done. Here are some thoughts on the wide receivers:

Now, I think of tits up as a good thing, but...
I'll pontificate, err, wade in :)

I agree that the loss of Ronald Curry has been damaging. Prior to the injury(s), I felt he was our best all-around WR. Seriously. I'm skeptical as to whether or not he will ever bounce back from this latest set-back and even if he does, they should probably have him mend until 2007. Too bad.

Randy Moss - Anyone else think he might be on the downside already? He seems a step slower than he used to be IMHO and that was before the injuries incurred during the SD game. Then again, inconsistent O-Line & QB play could be the real culprit. Either way, this guy should be much more effective than he has shown thus far.

Jerry Porter - I sometimes get the feeling that he fancies himself a Randy Moss type WR, but I think he is more effective on the over the middle-medium range stuff because of his good hands (IMO) and big body. Sure he will occasionally get deep, but he should be making his killing over the middle on short-to-intermediate stuff. I've been back & forth about his inconsistently, but I think this year it has more to do with QB & O-Line, not JP.

Jonnie Morant - Sick as it sounds, I almost wish one of our other current guys got dinged up just so we could get him into games. I love his potential.

Carlos Francis - I haven't really thought much of this guy, but he might be the quick-slant, change of direction guy that you're talking about Rupert? The problem is lack of experience and height. If Collins is grossly over throwing Moss & Porter, what will happen when he lobs a few to this midget?

I personally wouldn't expend any picks at WR this year, but it would be nice to have a veteran possesion WR in the Keenen McCardell or even Joe Jerovicious mold....

I predicted grand things for our WR corps this season and it didn't happen - primarily becasue the QB & O-Line IMO. Simple as that.
Well you both make some good pionts.

Rupert's right in that we have a lot of guys who are not good route runners. Porter I belive (as RIVL mentioned) can go over the middle effectively. Why he doesn't, to me, is because of the scheme, i.e. throw it deep baby. That's why there are so many seven step drops (almost all the time). It's not necessary if Turner would put in some of those quick slants and the like. Porter is more than capable of handling himself over the middle. Moss less so but he can do it if called for. We're not utilizing the receiver's skills IMO.

Gabriel while not a great route runner isn't all that bad from what I've seen. He's made some nice catches at the sideline and off course had burned some folks deep too.

Morant? We may never know. :(

Much of this I put on the coaching staff. Telling Randy what he wants to hear (go deep)...but the problem is as Rupert points out we don't have the OL to give Collins the needed time to find the man deep. Plus you can't make a living throwing the ball deep. Just not happening these days. So to me, despite some of the obvious flaws in our receivers habits it comes down to teaching, coaching and expectations. We have to get better underneath routes if the long ball is ever going to be successful. Otherwise as Rupert and RIVL point out the safeties just stand back there and wait...and they have the play in front of them as they're in zone coverage... :p

Oh yeah, I forgot about Francis too. He's a waste as far as I'm concerned. He'll never be much in this league. Morant on the other hand can be something but you have to have vision and the balls to give 'er a try. Turner, despite his "offense guru" tag, doesn't seem to have much imagination or balls for that matter.

BTW (from another thread), no liking "zone" isn't a good reason not to do it Mr. P. :rolleyes:
Francis might be the right size, but like Whitted, he's more of a straight-line speed guy. I don't know about his change of direction skills, but that remains to be seen. However, in the vertical stretch, the WR's tend to go deep, and he's great at that. Over the middle might not be the right place for a short guy either unless he's got depth so the QB can throw it over the DB's.

The vertical stretch was designed for one thing, to stretch the field. If you try a 2-deep zone, you'll be killed by my sending 3 guys deep. The "cover-2" sends the MLB deep to cover the TE, but having a RB release underneath I can either shorten his drop leaving the TE open deep or give the RB room to slash up the middle of the field.

So you go to a 3 deep. I use stop routes to complete underneath your deep 3 or crossing routes between your 2 levels. With only 4 underneath zones the gaps become HUGE. The same as against the "cover-2" with the MLB deep. Give me an accurate QB and I pick it apart ALL DAY.

Are those good enough reasons to NOT go zone? Sure they are. Damned good ones.

So what does man do against the vertical stretch?

First consider man under (2 deep), it takes away your 2 WR's if you've got guys who can hang with them for 10-15 yards which they should be able to. Then you've got the OLB hanging with the TE and at worst trailing underneath him. Then you've got your 2 safeties hanging deep to assist with the WR's and TE deep.

In the event I went man-free the SS covers the TE and the LB's get to drop into scouted underneath zones or stick with a RB out of the backfield.

Scouting sets your matchups. I've got someone one everyone with two guys free to double, blitz, or rest in an area as I see fit, based on scouting. Man only hurts me with a team that can consistently turn the corner in the running game. The LB's are in the middle at the snap and looking at their men, so only if they get caught around the horn are the CB's going to get caught running away from the play.

In either zone or man, pressure from the front 4 is critical. In man you need superior CB's that can hang with the fastest or shiftiest WR's. I think we've got two that can do that pretty well right now, but that's another topic isn't it. In zone you need guys who read the play well, understand the routes being run against them, and react like lightning. Man requires more athleticism, zone requires better understanding. Each can be effective, but I've seen zone get victimized more than man in my recollection, and it's NOT selective memory.
Curry is our best short distance catcher, he can run short routes very well and make the acrobatic catches that zone of the field demands. I'm sad because of his injury, probably his NFL career is in jeopardy if not ended.

Moss, Porter and Gabriel are better suited to the long field. Why isn't the long pass working with such capable guys?

Whitted is just a competent bacukp. Morant is an enigma.

Theoretically we have the material to make the vertical stretch work. But as we all know its all matter of the system not only the wideouts. In the 70s, when the vertical stretching was at its best, we only had one speedy guy (Cliff Branch) and a stellar posession type (Bilettnikoff), the QB (Stabler) was not precisely very good throwing the long ball, the stats were not that impressive yet the scheme was effective enough to win most games they played.

So to me, we have problems with the offensive system. And heres the very important factor, which is in fact the key to the problem (IMHO): the OL. If you don't have an OL, you can't throw the ball, and this is the real difference, to me. As long as we don't assemble a good line, simply it wont be possible to throw the ball long.

Get back to the Gruden WCO, it may yield better things with what we have now.
Moss is a bum.

Beyond that, so people have already posted what I would have said and have been saying for a while. Our only Wr who could run a decent route is gone. We shot ourselves in the foot by rushing Curry back onto the field. He was Collin's security blanket and our best option on 3rd down. Unless Curry can come back healthy next year or Francis' little ass can assume that role, we would probably do well to trade away one of these downfield runners and pick up a guy who actually knows how to play the position.
I think Moss and the others know how to play the position, they're just too busy trying to be michael Jordan at WR. How about being a freaking WR first and being Michael Jordan at WR when you can blow the rest of the league away. The thing all these wanna-be Michael Jordans forget is that Michael was that good because he could do everything. The skill was a HUGE part of what set him apart. Porter and Moss lack some of the skills (sharp cuts) that are an integral part of being a great receiver. It's why they can and have been taken out of games.
I think all of our newer members should get an opportunity to read through the breakdown of the Raiders that Bones and I started earlier.
I don't know if I can add anything that hasn't already been said. I'm not quite willing to turn in my "Woodson shades" concerning Randy but the WR situation is troubling. Personally I think Gabriel outperformed Porter this season and should have been starting.
IMO, our WR corps could use a change of philosophy (as well as kick in the ass). The stretch offense isn't just about throwing it deep and only deep. IMO, the most important factor in the stretch offense is a power running game. We've got the power back in Jordan, but our O-line failed us in the run game at least as much as in pass protection. You can't consistently throw it deep with any sucess unless you are forcing the defense to put more men in the box to stop the run.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Porter supposed to benefit greatly from Moss stretching the field, leaving him to run amok across the middle? Well, thats what I thought was going to happen. So what did last year tell us? Is Porter a weak route runner, or was he underutilized in his role? My gut tells me its the latter because he did have some sucess in the WCO with Gannon throwing him balls over the middle and on slants. Even before Moss' injury, we rarely saw this kind of route out of Porter. He seemed to be out of sync for most of the season and dropped more passes than I think he did in his entire career.

Moss is what he is. As long as he's healthy (and even if he's lost a half step, he can still out run anyone in the league), he'll put up numbers. And he'll be the focus of a defensive game plan. Hopefully, he learned something from last year and will concentrate on his route running so he will be able to continue to be a force as his skills diminish. Time will tell if he's a smart player (I think he's smarter than alot of people think) and makes adjustments in his game.

Gabriel is a very good 3rd receiver, but Curry is the guy who makes this corps truly special. With his injury occuring earlier in the season, my hopes are that he'll have enough time to recover. If not, I think Morant will be the guy to supplant Whitted and maybe even Gabriel for that spot.

If we're looking for another guy in the draft with similar skills to Curry, I'd take a flyer on Brad Smith out of Missouri in one of the later rounds. He had a great career as a spread option style QB (much like Curry), but his throwing skills aren't that of an NFL QB. But he is special as a runner. A poor man's Vince Young. When I watch him slash though a defense, I see the same things I saw in Curry.
Intersting take on Brad Smith. I'd take a flyer on that type of player.
I think the most amazing thing about the WR corps is that the TE didn't seem to get the rock more. Courtney had that 100 yrd game, but that was it? I agree that we really need a slot possession receiver. I think Moss and Porter's problems were from the lack of creativity of getting them the ball, I know Moss likes his 7, 8 and 9 routes...but Porter never seemed to care. Another play I never saw I use enough, especially against the blitz and pressures we saw alot were the WR screens, I think Moss is effective in the open field as well.
The irony is that Porter (IMO) is more effective when he concentrates on the short-to-intermediate stuff. He has pretty good hands and a big body to take the hits. I think his "deep" game is over stated.

This just makes the injury (again) to Ronald Curry that much more damaging.

A Keenan McCardell or Brandon Stokley type would be nice, but the other issue is QB? Collins doesn't seem to be able to hit the slants or short outs with any consistency?
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