The Raiders want to run the ball more in 2016. Head coach Jack Del Rio has made it a goal.
To that end, Oakland brought in one of the NFL’s top run-blocking guards in Kelechi Osemele and drafted a running back, DeAndre Washington, to give the rushing attack more pop behind starter Latavius Murray.
“We’re working on becoming a team that’s capable of running the ball well,” Del Rio told the media recently. “We never really, truly established that last year. It had to be good numbers for us to be able to run it well. We want to be able to run it well, period, whether the numbers are good or not.”
Certainly, the raw stats of the Raiders’ rushing game were less than impressive in 2015, with just 91.1 yards on the ground per game.
But in the opening exhibition game, the Raiders looked much more explosive. Washington and George Atkinson III had huge nights, and Oakland ran for 166 yards against the Arizona Cardinals.
But Thursday night against the Packers in Green Bay – when the Raiders starting offense played the entire first half – the run game went dormant again. The first unit managed just 35 yards on 11 carries.
“We just weren’t able to get anything going,” Murray told the San Francisco Chronicle after the game. “We just didn’t play like we know we are capable of playing.”
The Raiders first-team offense managed just three points against Green Bay and looked sluggish, in both the passing and running game.
If the running attack doesn’t get better, it could be a big point of concern heading into the regular season.
As Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group wrote, “(The offense) looked nothing like the unit that will probably need to put a minimum of 25 points on the board on Sept. 11 when they open the season in New Orleans against the Saints.”
The Raiders’ next exhibition will be against the visiting Tennessee Titans Saturday night, Aug. 27.