The most-discussed aspect of the 2012 Oakland Raiders is the impact of new/old offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.
Oakland’s offense is not as potent as it was in recent seasons and many fans and observers point to Knapp, who had a previous stint Oakland’s offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008. Knapp runs a West Coast offense and a zone-blocking scheme. The Raiders succeeded in the past couple of years with a power rushing attack.
A terrific study by Jason McCallum of ESPN Stats & Information shows that Knapp’s emphasis in his second tour with the Raiders is vastly different than in his first. McCallum’s study shows that Knapp is relying on the pass much more now than he did in 2007.
This season, the Raiders are averaging the eighth-most pass attempts in the NFL and the 30th-most rush attempts. In 2007, the Raiders averaged the fourth-most rush attempts per game and the 29th-most passes.
Knapp’s quarterback, Carson Palmer, is much better than the collection of Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell and Josh McCown Knapp had to work with in 2007. But what upsets many Oakland fans is that the Raiders aren’t running this season despite having Darren McFadden, one of the best running backs in the league.
The results of the different paths are the same. The 2012 Raiders, 1-4, are averaging 17.4 points per game; they averaged 17.7 points in 2007 when they finished 4-12. The Raiders’ scoring average this season puts them 29th among 32 NFL teams. The Raiders must find a way get their running game going. The top three scoring teams in NFL this year are all in the top seven of rush attempts per game.
The 2012 Raiders are averaging 349.8 yards a game, while the 2007 Knapp version averaged 294.8 yards per game. But the problem is the pass-run yardage ratio. Oakland is averaging 271.4 passing yards now compared to 164.4 five years ago. But the Raiders are averaging 78.4 on the ground, compared to 130.4 yards a game under Knapp in 2007. Because of the lack of a running game, the Raiders' time of possession is nearly four minutes lower than in 2007.
The truth is, both offenses under Knapp struggled. But the only way Knapp’s 2012 version will work is if the Raiders find a way to run again.