One of the – if not the – biggest plays of the week 3 contest versus the Steelers was the first running play of the Raiders where Darren McFadden scampered virtually untouched 64 yards down the field and into the end zone for their first rushing touchdown of the season.
The play was significant for a number of reasons – it tied up the score, shifted momentum and gave confidence to the team – but it also showed for the first time this season how potent the Raiders run game can be when the zone blocking scheme is operating in sync.
When the play starts, the team is out in a 3 WR, 1 TE and 1 RB formation. There are two receivers to the left of the formation, the weak side (no TE on that side), one is spit out wide and the other is in the slot.
The right of the formation is the strong side meaning that the TE is set on that side. In this case, the TE is true to his name and is tight to the RT. There is another receiver split wide on the right side. McFadden is the only player in the backfield.
Here’s a look at the lineup, pre-snap.
At the snap, the offensive line all moves to the right in unison. There are some keys that this is zone blocking versus power blocking. The offensive linemen look for their blocks as they move which indicates they are not locked onto a certain man but instead for the players that will enter into their particular area.
Look at the shot below. No one has entered into LG Cooper Carlisle’s zone. Veldheer has engaged with the defensive end and there are two LBs that are coming around to seal the backside if McFadden tries to cut back.
Carlisle who has recognized that no one is going to hit his hole, so he tries to create a cutback lane for McFadden by taking on the DE that Veldheer had initially engaged. This shot shows the point where Veldheer is passing the DE – who I believe is RDE Brett Keisel – off to Carlisle. Carlisle stonewalls Keisel and creates a good size hole.
Also note in the picture how Wizniewski is one on one with a player. That is the NT, number 98 Casey Hampton. Hampton is 325 lbs, so he has ten pounds on Wisniewski but Wiz handles him and keeps him away from McFadden. His ability to take on a nose tackle one on one really separates him from last year’s center, Samson Satele.