With Cook taking the helm of the Oakland Raiders’ offense, what’s the game plan? In my opinion, it’s not rocket science. Cook needs to force the Texans to play honest. However, Houston will most probably stack the box, anticipating the run. Consequently, Bill Musgrave should make it easier for Cook. Certainly, using DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard more, particularly in screens and short throws will help. They are shifty backs, have played very well and the Texans’ most vulnerable point is exactly the middle of their defense. Although stout, they lack agility.
Additionally, the same is true for the tight ends and wide receivers. Amari Cooper gains many yards after catch, so why not dial up a lot of slant/crossing routes for him? Crabtree was Carr’s security blanket, so use him in those corner routes for 5-10 yards. What about Clive Walford and Rivera? They can also find spots in that Texans defense.
In general, Musgrave shouldn’t put too much on Cook’s plate: go with short/medium, high percentage throws. Also, forget about those unproductive Latavius Murray runs up the gut. There will be plenty of Vince Wilfork and Brian Cushing in the vicinity. If this is Wilfork’s final season, he’d want at least one more postseason victory. Expect him to wreak havoc in the middle.
Safety Reggie Nelson’s knack for interceptions late in games serves as great security. On the contrary, but underperforms in coverage, which is a problem. Sean Smith and David Amerson show flashes, but lapses in technique and coverage. Amerson is still among the league’s leaders in pass breakups, but is susceptible to big plays. Overall, the secondary is a liability. For example:
In the middle, there’s not much to say. Our linebackers can’t stop the run or cover. Running backs and tight ends go wild. What’s the plan? Lamar Miller (who should be back on Saturday) is a slashing runner, but the Texans running scheme is pretty simple. They don’t use a lot of bubble screens, misdirection, or crazy plays in general. So assign somebody to him, say, Perry Riley Jr. Riley should be Miller’s (or any other running back’s) best friend. Shedding blocks and stay with the running backs all day long is crucial.
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In coverage, none of our linebackers is capable of doing a decent job against tight ends. In the teams’ first clash, C.J. Fiedorowicz led the Texans with 6 receptions for 82 yards. And Fiedorowicz is a mediocre player. With Joseph returning, I’m guessing he’s the Raiders’ best option to shadow Fiedorowicz around. If the Texans use 2 or 3 tight end formations, then all we can do is pray.
Finally, the defensive line: Khalil Mack continues to astound and Bruce Irvin forced another fumble against the Broncos. But, they can’t do it by themselves. They need help from the interior. The Texans offensive line is maddeningly inconsistent, so Norton needs to unleash a flurry of blitzes, stunts, whatever it takes to pester Brock Osweiler. Once they are out of the pocket, it mostly takes Hopkins out of the game and forces dump offs (remember Miller’s best friend? This is when he comes in handy again). This game is winnable. Everything mustn’t break right for the Oakland Raiders to win. They simply need to clean up silly mistakes.