Keep The Tay Train Rolling
Latavius Murray returned to action last week after missing the previous two games with a toe injury. And the difference to the offense was readily apparent to see.
Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington filled in as capably as they could – and didn’t do a bad job in Murray’s absence. But there is no question that Oakland’s ground game works better as a three headed beast rather than relying on just the two rookies. Murray is big, strong, and physical – and he adds a dimension they don’t quite have.
Consider, in the two games Murray missed, the Raiders rushed for just 89 yards against San Diego and 64 against the Chiefs. The ground game wasn’t effective and it created some problems with the offense overall.
Against Jacksonville last week, Oakland’s committee of running backs contributed a solid 144 yards on the ground. Murray led the way with 59 yards. Jamize Olawale and DeAndre Washington also contributed, while Richard’s contributions were mainly on special teams.
But the difference between having Murray in the lineup and not having him was plain as day. Oakland had a legitimate running threat that the Jaguars had to account for. That allowed Oakland’s receiving group to make some plays of their own.
Against the Bucs, the Raiders will be taking on a team that’s in the lower middle of the rushing defense pack. Currently, Tampa Bay ranks nineteenth in yards allowed on the ground and has given up seven rushing touchdowns.
Tampa Bay isn’t quite as stout as some of the other run defenses they’ve faced this season – Baltimore and San Diego most notably. But they’re not a bad unit and if you’re not careful, they could really make your day miserable – just ask Denver, who was held to 89 yards on the ground.
That being said, the Raiders should have some chances to make some plays in the run game. And with Murray leading the way, they need to take full advantage of that to open up the rest of their offense.