Raiders still believe in zone blocking scheme

The Raiders’ goal of getting off to a running start in the 2012 season has hit a brick wall through two games.

Throughout training camp, coach Dennis Allen made no secret of his desire for the Raiders to be a run-first team, hiring Greg Knapp to install a West Coast-style offense with play-action and bootlegs that are designed to complement a zone-scheme running game.

Two games into the regular season, star running back Darren McFadden has 56 yards on 24 carries, the Raiders rank 31st in rushing — ahead of only the Tennessee Titans — and Carson Palmer has thrown 94 passes.

The Raiders are 0-2, and the zone running scheme is being called into question.

In the last two seasons under Hue Jackson, first as offensive coordinator and play-caller and then as coach, the Raiders had a solid running game with McFadden gaining 1,771 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and scoring 11 touchdowns in 20 games.

One of Jackson’s first moves when hired as offensive coordinator and play-caller under Tom Cable was to go directly to McFadden and ask what plays he wanted to run. McFadden wanted some gap and power runs.

So when offensive coordinator Greg Knapp returned in 2012 on Allen’s staff after he was with the team in 2007, the Raiders returned to a pure zone scheme. There was a lot of attention paid to how McFadden performed. He looked fine during training camp and preseason before the Raiders were stuffed in their first two regular-season games.

With 14 games to play, no one is backing off from the commitment to the zone scheme — and that includes McFadden.

“I’m very comfortable in this scheme,” McFadden said. “I just feel like we have to get going. You hit one or two runs here, a 3-yard run there, and eventually it’s going to start popping.”

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