For most of the 2002 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders have not even pretended that the running game is part of the offensive game plan.
The Raiders offensive line, just two years removed from block for the NFL's top-rated ground, are not hung up on the theory of balanced offense. The Raiders, who travel to Arizona Sunday, rushing numbers in a 27-20 win over New England were not astounding 31 carries for 97 yards but the fact that they stuck with the ground game was a newsflash. Oakland, which threw 38 passes in that contest, has had about a 65-35 ratio in favor of the pass over the run.
"I think whatever your offense needs to be efficient and effective, you just have to do it at a high caliber and it doesn't matter whether it's a run or a pass," Oakland right tackle Lincoln Kennedy said. "At this particular juncture, you don't care about play selection, you just try to go out there and execute."
Granted, Oakland has weapons galore with its passing game but at some point the ground game might need to be at least a genuine threat especially in foul weather.
"Sure, this is a timing offense but it's a short timing offense," Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown said. "I don't think it's that much of a disadvantage. We feel like we have the perfect offense for any situation."
The Raiders have the top-rated passing game in the NFL but are No. 24 running the ball. Running the ball might be an option Sunday against an Arizona team ranked No. 24 against the run. The Cards, however, are an equally inept 24th against the pass.
"We strive to have that balance," Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon said. "You can see how it benefits a football team. I definitely feel that we can run and I think we're getting better."