ALAMEDA – Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson spent most of his weekly press conference defending (at least discussing) his unit’s second-half woes.
The Raiders have gone cold late in three straight games, which has either negated a fast start or taken a competitive game out of reach.
The trend was clear Sunday against Pittsburgh, when the Raiders nearly blew a 21-3 lead after registering 35 second-half yards and just one first down. The Raiders didn’t execute well, and they weren’t able to run at will, even when the defense was ready for it.
Play calling was considered conservative in those situations, which, right or wrong, lays criticism at Olson’s feet.
“We try to pinpoint it. Why does that happen in the second half rather than the first half?” Olson said. “We’re looking at it and trying to figure out why that could occur if it didn’t happen in the first half. Our job is to find out at times we don’t execute.”
Olson spoke specifically about the Steelers game, and pointed to a lack of execution. The Raiders believed they could have a 300-yard rushing day after totaling 182 in the first half. Darren McFadden was going strong, and the Raiders' core runs were steadily productive.
“We knew, let’s run the football,” Olson said. “We’d like to make a statement with our rushing game and let’s finish them off and unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
The wheels came off instead. The Raiders tried to run and pass their way out of things. Neither worked well. They only had two series in the third quarter and fumbled another away deep in Raiders territory. Some credit goes to a Steelers defense, and significant blame falls on execution.
“We have to do a better job of executing and really coaching up the details because to be honest with you, because the plays were there to be had,” Olson said. “It’s more focus at halftime and having the resolve to finish the game.”
You may blame the play calling and call the conservative approach unwarranted. The players don’t agree.
“Greg is a guy that you respect, whatever he calls,” quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. “I know he has the best interest in me and the offense and I just think whatever he calls, the whole team, offensively, believes in. We have to sharpen it up.”
The second half wasn’t pretty, but it resulted in a win. So did the Oct. 6 home game versus San Diego, when a 17-point lead nearly vanished under similar circumstances. That can’t continue if the Raiders are to win consistently.
“The fast starts are great and we have to keep them coming,” running back Darren McFadden told CSN parent station NBC Sports Network. “We have to find a way to finish games out. That’s a skill we have to develop.”