Oakland beat writer Jerry McDonald was busy talking to coaches and players yesterday for interviews and were able to put together a number of interesting articles that start to show what the 2012 Raiders team will look like.
First, Jerry McDonald of the Contra Costa Times spoke to Dennis Allen. There is a transcript here.
There isn't anything too amazing in there but it is interesting how many restrictions the team has at this time of year with the players. The Raiders are allowed to have two hours worth of meetings per day and the only coaches that can be on the field with the players are strength/conditioning.
He also said that the time on the field must be videotaped and kept by the team in case there is a complaint through the NFLPA to the league office.
McDonald also spoke to QB Carson Palmer who seemed very enthusiastic about the next year and the offensive schemes. Here is a link to the article.
Palmer talked about the new zone blocking scheme that is coming in. He thinks that it's a great fit for the two speedy runners, Darren McFadden and Taiwan Jones because they'll be able to make one cut and then burst through into the second level.
He also thinks the zone blocking scheme has some ability to help out the passing game.
In a zone blocking scheme, all of the linemen move one direction and take on the players that attack their area and try to move the defense in one direction so that the offense can creat cutback lanes on runs or know that the defense is moving in one direction and isolate receivers or backs in a passing lane.
Palmer elaborated, “Defensive players are taught to read, not to put their eyes in the backfield and get caught by the quarterback. But from the film I’ve been watching, it looks like a run to the first five guys. They don’t know for a few second after the ball is snapped that the quarterback has already gone into his first read."
Palmer's point is that because pass and run blocking is operating approximately the same in the zone blocking scheme the defense cannot simply know if it's a run or pass play based upon how the lineman react at the snap. So they may guess that the play is a run and by the time they realize it was a pass play, Palmer has already been able to get the ball out to his primary read.
Another interesting nugget was that Palmer thinks that the new schemes uses the speed the Raiders have at receiver to their advantage. He told McDonald, "All the play-action stuff really utilizes what we have on the outside. There’s not a lot of routes where guys are stopping. They’re using their speed, they’re on the move. It’s going to fit the strong suits of a lot of guys we have on offense, including myself.”
Raiders fans should also expect a lot more dump passes to running back designed to move the chains, a philosophy that may not be as exciting as a quick strike but one that most of the best franchises use.
Palmer stated, “The good thing with all this play-action stuff and move-the-pocket stuff is that some of the best plays are the screens and checkdowns to running backs. When you cover Jacoby (Ford) downfield and Denarius downfield, one of the positives is the checkdown, the easy throw, the dumpoff to the running back. When Darren McFadden and Taiwan Jones have five, six or seven yards separation between them between the next defender, they rarely get tackled by the first defender."
Finally, McDonald spoke to DT Tommy Kelly. Kelly said that he's excited about the new staff but it's obvious he's been around a number of new coaches because he added a caveat, saying, "We’re in the honeymoon stage. You’ve got to be around a person, get down to training came and game time to know what you’ve got."
When asked if they will be running a 4-3 or a 3-4, he said he believes it will be a 4-3.
“We’re going to do what we always do: run four man,” Kelly said. “I’m just assuming. Heard he’s a guy that mixes it up, so you never know.”
This guess seems likely to be true. Further confimation was provided via Twitter when Raiders NT Travis Ivey tweeted, "I like 3-4 because that's grown man football...But each has it's perks."
There was a final article that was published that talked about some of the CBA restrictions on the team, here. It seems fairly self explanatory, so if you're interested, I recommend reading it.
What I took away from it is that Allen is a detail oriented, structured coach who is strong on discipline as an organization. That's a definite plus because Hue Jackson, who I liked as a head coach, was more an emotional leader than a detailed one. I think that was partially why the team was so undisciplined on the field with penalties - teams reflect the head coaches personality in many ways.
For Raiders news and analysis throughout the day, or to ask me a question or tell me what you think, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews