With defenses loading up against the run, Raiders offense begins to stall Print
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Monday, 22 October 2007 14:23
NFL Headline News

 ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -If the past two weeks are any indication, it's pretty obvious how teams plan to defend the Oakland Raiders.
Both Kansas City and San Diego have crowded the line to stop the run and dare the Raiders to beat them with the pass. In both games, Oakland was unable to generate any sort of running game and could not make enough big plays passing to win.
``Teams are going to stack the box against us,'' running back LaMont Jordan said. ``Teams are going to put eight in the box. They're going to do what the two teams have done for the past two weeks. What's going to happen is when we look at the film, we're going to realize once again we just got outexecuted. That's what it came down to. We got a few big plays from our passing game, but when it's all said and done, the strength of this offense is us running the ball. For the past two weeks, we didn't do a good job of doing that at all.''
After averaging a league-best 194.3 yards rushing per game the first four weeks of the season, the Raiders (2-4) have combined for just 98 yards on 48 carries the past two games.
They scored just 24 points in the two losses, dropping back into their familiar spot of last place in the AFC West.
Coach Lane Kiffin described the problems in the running game as minor, pointing to a missed block here or a cutback there that could have led to big plays. He was encouraged that the defense and special teams kept the team in the game until the end of the 12-10 loss to the Chiefs despite the offensive struggles.
``It's not here we go again,'' he said. ``You're ahead in the fourth quarter in five of six games. That's not something where we have so many things to fix and here we go again: Same old Raiders. ... I don't believe that is it.''
The Chiefs frequently moved a safety close to the line of scrimmage to gang up on the run. One of the biggest plays of the game came in the second quarter when Jordan was stopped on a fourth-and-1 from the Kansas City 17.
Jordan finished with just 29 yards on 11 carries as Oakland managed just 55 yards rushing in all against the Chiefs. Dominic Rhodes, in his first extensive action back from a suspension, added 21 yards on nine carries, but was unable to generate the spark the Raiders needed.
``You can run against those fronts,'' Jordan said. ``We're close but, heck, we're close to about being out of the playoffs also, if we keep losing. It's just one of those deals.''
Daunte Culpepper and Oakland's receivers have been unable to make defenses pay for stacking the line. The Raiders had two big passes against the Chiefs on back-to-back play-action plays: a 59-yarder to Jerry Porter, followed by a 21-yard touchdown to Ronald Curry.
But there haven't been enough plays in the passing game to make the defenses stop stacking up against the run. Running the ball doesn't figure to be easier this week against Tennessee, which leads the NFL by allowing only 59.7 yards rushing per game.
``Once they start piling people up in the box, we've got to be able to do things equally, as well, so that we can become a balanced team and we can go into a game saying, 'OK, whatever you decide to take away we're going to hurt you with the other thing,''' quarterback Josh McCown said. ``The better you run the ball, the better they're going to come after you and you're going to see eight-man fronts and stuff like that.''
McCown, who started the first three games before being sidelined by a broken toe, said he expects to be close to full speed at practice Wednesday and hopes to get his starting job back this week against the Titans.
``I obviously want to start and expect to when I'm back,'' he said. ``But that will be on them to make the best decision they can make, and I'm behind that 100 percent.''
Kiffin wouldn't commit who would start this week. He said he does not subscribe to the theory a starter can't lose his job because of injury and would wait until watching practice before making a decision.
``We hope that he's out there as if nothing has ever happened,'' Kiffin said. ``We hope that he's out there and can go through the whole practice and participate at a high level. Like I said to him, we'll figure it out once we see that. There's nothing to figure out right now because we're not practicing.''

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