By Ryan Leong
When you look inside the numbers at the Raiders’ Week 15 win over the Chiefs, there are definitely some positive signs. The Raiders, ranked 29th in rushing, ran for a season-high 203 yards — 110 yards by Darren McFadden and 89 by Mike Goodson.
The team has struggled with the zone blocking scheme designed by offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp. Now they are mixing it at times with a more conventional power blocking scheme. Part of the reason the run game has shown improvement is the return of center Stephen Wisniewski and right tackle Khalif Barnes. They’ve played with their entire starting offensive line for five games beginning on Nov. 18. Since then, the team is 13th in rushing in the NFL, averaging 4.5 yards per carry (568 yards on 127 carries)
The Raiders are 3-0 this season when McFadden runs for 100 yards and 10-2 in his career. Although two of their wins are against the lowly 2-12 Chiefs, head coach Dennis Allen doesn’t discount the significance of shutting out Kansas City, 15-0.
“I think it’s important anytime you get that opportunity,” Allen said in his Monday press conference. “It’s tough to shut anybody out in this league and for us to be able to go out there and do that, the first time it’s been done in this organization in 10 years, I think that was critical for our defense. I think our defense in that game played outstanding — 119 total yards, which is the least amount of yards given up since 1975, to get the shutout, to hold the team to 10 yards rushing, which is a franchise record, to a team that was a top-five rushing team in the NFL this year. I think that was huge for our defense. I think it was a good confidence builder and now we have to continue to build on that.”
The Raiders will be hard pressed to build off their success with their final two games on the road. Both Carolina and San Diego are 5-9 teams, yet Oakland’s lone road victory was at Kansas City back on October 28.
“It’s just like I’ve been saying since Day One — we’ve got to be more consistent at it,’’ Allen said. “We’ve proven we can do it at times, but we’ve got to be more consistent at it. That will be our challenge moving forward.”
Defensive end Andre Carter had one of his most productive games of the year, being involved in 65 percent of the plays (32-of-49). He had two sacks and according to stats compiled by Raiders coaches after a video review of the game, five quarterback hits, two quarterback hurries and four tackles.
Carter was a late addition and didn’t sign with the team until Sept. 27. His first game wasn’t until Oct. 14 at Atlanta. He is eighth among active NFL players with 78 career sacks. With his increased playing time Sunday, right defensive end Matt Shaughnessy played only 17 snaps.
Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.