NFL Wire News

Ground game has fueled Raiders’ success


The Sports Xchange

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders’ success this season has come when they were even moderately successful on the ground. The Raiders are 4-0 when they rush for 70 or more yards, and their most recent victory came with Latavius Murray getting 113 yards against the previous stout Jets.

Oakland had 74 yards by halftime against the Jets, making a physical statement that only enhanced the play of Derek Carr at quarterback.

“I think we definitely made a statement of what we want to be and how we want to run the ball,” Murray said. “It says a lot about us and what we’re capable of.”

A big portion of Oakland’s success on the ground has been because of blocking, and not just from a physical offensive line. The Raiders’ wideouts block with enthusiasm for each other, and No. 3 receiver Seth Roberts is the top blocking receiver in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.

“I just try to make it happen for my teammates,” Roberts said. “Work together and look for the next man and try and get my job done. I take pride in my blocking.”

Murray had runs of 25 and 26 yards, while touchdown passes of 36 yards to Michael Crabtree and 59 yards to Taiwan Jones were primarily catch-and-run plays that relied on downfield blocking.

“Without it, you can’t have the big play,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Your receivers are going to be involved. When you have a group working for each other like ours is, it gives you an opportunity.”

–City officials will make a presentation in New York on behalf of the Raiders next week as their lease expires and the franchise eyes an opportunity in Carson, Calif.

“We’ll show how everything from Oakland’s growing economic momentum and urban vitality to the team’s die-hard regional fan base make it clear there is no better time for a major league team to be located in, or associated with Oakland,” Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement.

The Raiders’ dealings with the Oakland in recent years, however, have come up well short in terms of funding.

–The Raiders had everyone come out of the Jets game healthy. Other than a torn pectoral by defensive end Justin Tuck (ending his season) and a knee injury that has temporarily sidelined linebacker Neiron Ball, the Raiders have been relatively healthy.

The offseason included a new multi-million performance center — one of Del Rio’s conditions for taking the job — and a new strength and conditioning staff led by Joe Gomes and Darryl Eto.

Del Rio hopes it has all made a difference.

“You’d like to think you’re giving yourself a chance to be as healthy and fit as possible,” Del Rio said. “Certainly we work hard at it. A little good fortune helps, no question. We’ve been very diligent in how we’ve approached our work week. I like to believe it helps.”

About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business