The Oakland Raiders run game is not what it was supposed to be this year and that has been a hot topic of discussion throughout the first half of the season. Last weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Raiders star running back, Darren McFadden, had his best game of 2012. Run DMC had more runs of over 10 yards in that game than he had in the entire season up to that point combined. But the thing about McFadden's game against the Chiefs is that it provided more questions than answers for the Raiders run game.
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and head coach Dennis Allen both firmly believe in the zone blocking scheme and have stated all year that they are not planning on going back to the power blocking scheme. Last weekend, however, the Raiders used a fair amount of power blocking in their run game, and McFadden clearly showed that he is more comfortable in that system. The big difference between the two schemes is how the running back makes his decision. In the zone blocking scheme, most plays begin with the running back making lateral movement until they find a seam, at which point, the back makes one cut and starts moving up field. In a power blocking scheme, the running back goes directly to a designated hole and goes up field without the lateral movement and need to read blocks that occurs in the zone blocking scheme.
Last weekend, the Raiders ran a number of power blocking, inside runs with a good amount of success. In addition, they also ran zone blocking plays with delayed hand offs that gave McFadden more time to read the blocks before ever getting the ball. Both of these changes in style are indicative that the Raiders are finally coming to grasps with the fact that their running game was just not working under an exclusively zone blocking system. All eyes will be on the game this Sunday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to see if the Raiders continue to move away from zone blocking or if they revert back to the system that has fared so poorly already this season.