Oakland needs more from ground game

Oakland was good at running the ball when it chose to do so but could use more production in that area.


            Since the Oakland Raiders are returning every starter from last season's league-leading offense except fullback Jon Ritchie, they are not likely to have a major philosophical change.

            Ritchie's loss, however, may not be hugely significant because Oakland signed Philadelphia's Cecil Martin to replace him. In addition, Ritchie's role became diminished when the Raiders employed more three-receiver formations.

The Raiders weapons that make any team drool such as Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice, Charlie Garner, Jerry Porter, Tim Brown and Doug Jolley. Oakland, however, may look to find different ways to achieve similar success with new formations and plays.

Many Raider fans bristled that the team was too conservative under former head coach Jon Gruden and conversely lauded Bill Callahan's pass-heavy approach.

Despite the weapons that favor a strong passing game, the team needs to find a way to get more out of its ground game to become more balanced and take pressure off the offensive line and Gannon. Oakland's pass-heavy approach was easy to overlook in the regular season and AFC playoffs because few teams had the personnel to combat its weapons.

The Raiders, however, had more penalty yards (51) than rushing yards (19) in their 48-21 loss to Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl. That notion means – no running game equals no chance.

It would not be a huge surprise if Porter became the starter on the other side of Rice. That would make Brown, who failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving since 1992, more of a situational player.


            Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at vdad7@yahoo.com

SB Report Top Stories