Garner Stymied

The Raiders abandoned the running game this past week against the Chargers. Instead of giving the ball to their number one force, Charlie Garner, they threw the ball 45 times.

Charlie Garner entered the game on pace to score 20 touchdowns on the season but at the end of the game he had scored zero, and only carried the ball 7 times for a pedestrian 24 yards. Given that he was averaging 7.9 yards per carry, even in his limited role, Garner was bottled up as a rusher.

Garner did catch 7 passes out of the backfield to boost his season total to 32 catches. For Garner to only get 14touches on the day, the Raiders plans for attacking the Chargers were misguided. Much as the Rams got away from the gameplan of using Marshall Faulk in their first few games, all losses, the Raiders neutralized themselves. Garner has become such an explosive threat that not using him actually hurt the team.

The 7 catches against the Chargers defense is a concern. Running backs continue to get the ball in open space, with the secondary dropping back in coverage as to not give up the big plays, and the linebackers not seeing backs quickly enough out of the backfield.

Although the Chargers won this battle it does not get easier for them. On Nov. 3rd, they face a Jets team that is desperate and running back Curtis Martin who is producing at far below his normal numbers. He has come on in recent weeks and tends to get stronger as the year progresses.

To continue their winning ways they will have to work on their coverage of backs out in the flat. Coach Schottenheimer is preaching the fundamentals that make a club a winner. Today he practiced with those fundamentals in mind. Tomorrow those fundamentals should include the coverage scheme they intend to deploy to stop this issue from becoming a problem.

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