Programming note: Tony Sparano will address the media today at 12:50 p.m. Watch the live stream right here.
The Raiders thought they had a bigger, stronger offensive line, a strong-armed, level-headed young quarterback and a deeper running back and receiver corps, all perceived improvements over a year ago. Some of those beliefs panned out, others did not.
Can’t blame coordinator Greg Olson for expecting offensive execution to be far better that it has been. A quarter through the season, it literally can’t get much worse.
The Raiders are dead last in total offense, scoring and rushing. The air attack has so many attempts that yardage totals aren’t bad, though Derek Carr’s 5.5-yards per completion is lowest among starting quarterbacks.
“I’m as disappointed or more disappointed than anybody right now at where we’re at after four games offensively,” Olson said. “It’s overall, as a whole unit right now. We had a chance to evaluate here during the bye week, and hopefully we will be able to come out and put a better performance on the field and perform better because that certainly is not good enough right now.”
Olson isn’t crossing his fingers or praying for rain. He isn’t tossing an effective playbook in the garbage, either. He’s set on fixing what they already have in an effort to get better execution when it matters most.
Interim head coach Tony Sparano is an offensive-minded guy – recently fired head coach Dennis Allen was a defensive mind, which left Olson with relative autonomy – and will exert some influence over the game plan. It’s no secret that Sparano likes to run often. With his starting lineup as constructed, Olson would also like to do that.
Sparano pulled stat out of his film study that somewhat explains why the Raiders have run just 31.5 percent of the time in the first four games.
“We’ve played about six quarters in two-minute offense out of 16,” he said. “In order to do that, you can’t go out there and run the football. For us to line up in two backs when we’re down several scores and start handing the football off doesn’t make good sense. So, we’ve got to get out there and try to give ourselves a chance to get back in the football game.”
That means better starts on both sides of the football. That also means running better from the outset, avoiding three-and-outs that have plagued this offense in the early going. According to sportingcharts.com, the Raiders go three-and-out on 34.09 percent of their drives, with 15 in 44 series.
While it's easy to blame the coordinator, a lot of this falls on those executing the plays. Maybe the expectations were too high for this group, and that the perceived talent level isn't as high as originally thought. That won't change in season, and Olson must make the best of what he has.
Olson said the Raiders have looked at some different things schematically and will make some tweaks, but they aren’t going to start from scratch in season.
“You are not going to see a bunch of wholesale changes,” Olson said. “I think Tony [Sparano] is on board with what we’ve been trying to get accomplished. It’s all about, really, correcting mistakes and trying to get better.”