Every Snap: Skins Offense vs the Raiders

What Happened

We hammered them through the air and gained extra possessions thanks to our defense, but the run game stalled and for the third week in a row we couldn’t block Inside or Outside zone.  Versus Inside Zone, Oakland cancelled out the interior gaps and forced Perine to bounce his runs outside into an overmatched Tight End.

On this run, Scherff thought a defender would penetrate through his gap (probably because of the NT’s initial step toward him) and never made it upfield to seal out the Linebacker.  Instead the Linebacker came to Scherff at the line, clogged the gap, and forced Perine to bounce it outside into a Khalil Mack-Niles Paul matchup:

Oakland played aggressive on the interior and forced runs outside.  In response we tried several antidotes:

  • First we tried replacing the tight end block with a QB Zone Read to freeze the DE but Kirk’s speed wasn’t enough to keep them honest.
  • Then we ran an RPO where if the conflict defender crashed down toward the running back, we threw it and if the conflict defender stayed outside we handed it off.  Oakland chose to allow the handoff and we averaged meh results.
  • We split the Tackle out to widen the DE alignment.  It was used once but we didn’t go back to it probably because it tipped off the call.
  • We made use of Split Zone blocking so our Tight End could have a better angle to block the DE:Most teams use this to solve DE-TE matchup problems, however we had to ditch it after one play because Vernon Davis had no idea how to block it:

  • And last but not least, we sprinkled in a few Gap runs (Power, Counter, etc.) so our Tight Ends could kick out the DE instead of Zone block him:In the previous game we had success with Gap runs which led to a balanced run scheme but this week nothing seemed to work against this front:

Zone Runs:  20 carries for 65 yards (3.3 ypc)

Gap Runs:  9 carries for 25 yards (2.8 ypc)

We won thanks to our defense and big plays through the passing game like this 52 yarder to Doctson:


Vernon Davis worked the middle of the field while Chris Thompson exploited the underneath coverage and by the second half Oakland was forced to adjust their scheme.

Oakland tried to confuse Cousins by moving their safeties back and forth just before the snap.  So when they went 2-high we dumped it off underneath to CT who made the Raiders pay for keeping two Safeties deep.  Eventually Oakland had to add an extra underneath defender and switched to a more vanilla Cover 3 defense.


Offensive Line
Player + Total
Williams 5 5 0: Had a tough time targeting blocks in space
Lauvao 6 4 2: Pass Pro is still a problem
Long 7.5 3.5 4
Scherff 11.5 6 5.5: tasked with protecting the A gap and getting downfield on screens.
Moses 8 2.5 5.5: got movement on double teams
Total     17
+ plays are good

– plays are bad

Pass pro:  If Kirk had 3 seconds or longer to throw with a clear lane: +1.  If he had less than 3 seconds to throw or the Blitz was not picked up: -1
Pass Pro + Total
20.5 4 16.5

A lot of quick throws to CT helped mitigate the pass rush.

Brandon Scherff, along with Silverback, was our best option to block guys in space downfield.  He played a big part in springing CT loose on this 74 yarder (#75 left guard):

He also opened up the right side of the line with combo blocks involving  Morgan Moses:

There was a lot to like from the starting five and the only issue that consistently cropped up was the pulling and identifying of who to block.  It was an issue that affected Scherff, Lauvao and even Williams whose shown here pulling with his sights set for the far linebacker but stopping short to pick up a lineman who was already being blocked:

If it was Perine back there then I’d understand picking up that block, but it’s Chris Thompson and Scherff already had outside leverage, CT’s speed would’ve flown by any trash that leaked.  If Williams bypassed that block and wrapped through to get to his pre-snap read this run hits up to the Safety level.

Scherff and Lauvao also had questionable pulls on a Trap play and Power play.  The inability to Pull and Target was a big reason why our Gap run average fell short of 3.0 ypc.

Tight Ends
Player + Total
Paul 1.5 3 -1.5
Davis 2.5 3 -0.5
Total     -2: Protected by Gap runs and Zone Reads

Davis’ story is the same as it’s been all year: can’t Zone block, meh on Gap blocks but can tear a hole in a defense when we send him on a route.  Jordan Reed was injured and Niles Paul has yet to show why he’s deserving of a roster spot.

Wide Receivers
Player + Total
Crowder 1 1 0
Pryor 4 1.5 2.5
Grant 1 1 0
Total     2.5

Terrelle Pryor played a huge part in CT’s chunk plays.  In the 74 yarder shown earlier he was the initial downfield block that led the way and he repeated that effort on this draw play (#11, top of the screen):


Cousins + Total
 Wk3: Raiders 16 7 9(70%)
Wk2: Rams 12 7 5(63%)
Wk1: Eagles 20 12 8(63%)
[Great Decision AND Accurate Throw: +1
Good Decision but off target: +0.5
Screen pass/Checkdown: 0
Poor Decision but accurate throw: -0.5
Poor Decision AND Off Target throw: -1
That is just a rough guide, context matters.  For example: If it’s third down and Cousins makes a poor decision which ends the drive, that is a -1 regardless of how accurate the throw was.
% = good plays/total plays]

The Good:  There was the 52 yarder to Doctson which makes you wonder why Kirk won’t throw more of those 50/50 balls but otherwise CT did most of the heavy lifting in this game.

The Bad: The only new wrinkle added to Kirk’s arsenal was this route combo we attached to our Power run:

Paul is running the Arrow route and if the LB stays outside (which he does) then we hand it off.  We had 11 personnel which is geared to throw it, and they stayed in their base 3-4 defense which is geared to beef up against the run.  You would think we could exploit this mismatch through the air but apparently the coaches didn’t trust the guys on the field to execute.

Receiving and RBs

Routes + Total
Davis 4.5 1 3.5
Crowder 3.5 1 2.5
CT 4 0 4
Grant 1 0 1
Pryor 3 1 2
Doctson 1 1 0
Perine 0 1 -1

CT’s pluses came from his speed and ability to fit into the blocks he got downfield.

Pryor not only blocked his best game but was also the most consistent he’s been all year as a route runner.

Jamison Crowder was a route running maven, here he is running himself open at the sticks on 3rd and 6 and picking up the first down (top of the screen):

Runs + Total
CT 1 0 1
Perine 0 7 -7

CT had his trademark Pin and Pull run called for a third week in a row; the same run which scored against the Rams.  Meanwhile Samaje Perine’s struggles culminated into a fumble that finally put him on the bench.

On this run he failed to adjust his path after Scherff pancaked his man:

On top of all his mishaps their is also the issue of how long it takes him to hit the hole.  Lineman are having to hold their blocks for an extra 1-2 steps which is an eternity in the NFL.

PlayCalling + Total
13.5 6 7.5

[This is a new stat I’m following, basically it’s a way to quantify Gruden’s value as a play caller.  The first play shown in this post is an example of a Play calling minus.  The Raiders scouted our tendency to run Tight Zone out of that formation and gamed Scherff into catching a block which forced Perine to bounce it outside into Khalil Mack.]

Player Of The Game

Chris Thompson.  His speed took over the game and changed Oakland’s defensive structure which in turn helped to provide Cousins with easier pre-snap reads.

POTG Standings

2:  CT (Rams, Raiders)

1:  Williams (Eagles I)

Who Else Played Well:  Scherff was tasked with protecting the middle on most runs and targeted guys downfield on screens.  Moses imposed his will and got great movement on double teams.  Crowder was a route running Ace.  Pryor did a little bit of everything to help create big plays.  Doctson made a hell of a catch.

Gotta Get Better:  Tight End run blocking.  Perine’s running.  Williams uncharacteristically struggled in this one, mainly with pulling and blocking in space.  Lauvao’s pass pro is a big question mark trending towards bad.

What Does It Mean For The Future?

  • We are forced to run Outside Zone less and less and it’s leaving us without an identity on the ground.  Our adjustments so far:
    • Philly:  we threw it and it didn’t work.
    • LA:  we Gapped our runs.
    • Oakland:  They killed the run and stalled our offense until CT bailed us out.
  • That 52 yarder to Doctson was the exception to the rule, Kirk is only looking to the outside Receivers if the Cornerback is giving a Cover 3 cushion–which is good for about a half dozen throws a game.  Otherwise he’s working it to the middle or looking to dump it off to CT.
  • Scherff’s Inside Zone blocks were iffy, we’ll see if the Chiefs exploit that.
  • This Raiders defense which gave us problems resembles our defense: 3-4 with lots of movement up front and I can see why Gruden wants our DC to call this kind of defense.  If we didn’t generate so many three and outs, big throws and turnovers–we had 6 offensive drives in the first half alone–the talk of the game might’ve been Oakland’s Defense.

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