The Raiders run game wasn’t good enough last year. It far too inefficient, and far too reliant on Latavius Murray to move on the ground.
In total, they ranked No. 28 with 91.1 yards per game.
Raiders rushing got worse as the season went on and as games progressed.
In sum, not good enough.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave analyzed those issues, and wants to find plays best suited to the backs and linemen available.
“We want to do running concepts that our guys can execute, whether it’s the running back or the O-line,” Musgrave said. “We’re always looking to get better, of course, fundamentally and technique-wise. We’re going to keep working in that direction.”
The Raiders added some talent, and Musgrave knows he must develop what he already has.
The offense largely stood pat, though Musgrave believes free-agent left guard Kelechi Osemele will help the run game “be more productive.”
General manager Reggie McKenzie also added versatile rusher DeAndre Washington in the fifth round.
Adding a back was essential following a season where quarterback Derek Carr was the team’s second-leading rusher. The team retained its incumbents, including Roy Helu Jr., currently out recovering from hip surgery following a disappointing 2015 campaign.
Despite last year’s disappointments, Musgrave believes rushing well is possible with the players available to help Murray. He also agrees adding fresh blood was essential.
“I think Latavius did have to carry a majority of the load last year, so it will help,” Musgrave said. “I think we have a really good stable of runners right now. Someone will emerge and we’ll have different guys that will get put in different situations, whether it’s Jamize (Olawale) or Marcel (Reece) or Taiwan (Jones). Then there will be other guys that will emerge as well, so we’re looking forward to that component.”
Musgrave must hope something changes with incumbent support backs. Helu was underwhelming at best, an ineffective player who was a healthy scratch on several occasions. He had surgery on both hips this offseason, and is hoping the procedure gives him the agility he showed in Washington.
Reece has been an impactful runner when given the chance, but had just 10 carries last year in Musgrave’s first season calling plays. Jones only had 16 due to injury and ball security issues. Olawale showed quality flashes, but it seems Washington will be given an opportunity to earn carries as a rookie.
Evaluating rushers without pads is difficult, though Musgrave is intrigued by Washington’s talent. The next step is find plays that work for the Texas Tech alum.
“He has really worked well for us thus far, so we’re putting him in different situations,” Musgrave said. “We’re doing that to get a feel for he’s strengths and how we can tailor plays, tailor situations so he can really flash for us.
"He’s going to be good in first, second or third down. I know (special teams coordinator Brad Seely) is excited to have him on special teams also.”