By Steve Corkran
Friday, October 26th, 2012 at 1:33 pm in Oakland Raiders.
If some people had their way, the Raiders would be in the no-huddle offense from start to finish every game. If only it were that easy.
Quarterback Carson Palmer and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp say the no-huddle is effective if used properly. Yet, it’s not something that a team can live off all the time.
“If that’s all you’re going to come into the game with you completely limit yourself, from personnel groups, to formations, to protections, red zone, third down, backed up,” Palmer said. “It’s not feasible. It’s a good change-up. It’s a good change of pace thing for us. It gets us out of a rut every once in awhile and it also keeps a defense on their toes and keeps a defense preparing for it. But it’s not something that you can just run all the time.”
Teams oftentimes will use the no-huddle as a means of preventing the defense from making substitutions. The downside is, the offense can’t substitute, either.
If the offense makes substitution(s), the defense is permitted to counter. Therefore, going to the no-huddle makes sense when the Raiders get a defense in a look that favors them based on who they have on the field at the time.
Some people also are delusional thinking that Palmer calls all the plays when he’s in the no-huddle. For the record, there are a series of plays available to Palmer during the no-huddle and Knapp has a hand in most everything that takes place.
Here’s Knapp’s take on the rapport between he and Palmer in terms of the no-huddle.
“There’s a good communication going right now,” Knapp said. “It’s like the third base coach giving the signal, sometimes where he’ll wave me off or something like that, and that’s OK, because he’s running the stuff that we’ve practiced the most and are the most comfortable with.
“But I want to be there to aid him and see some looks, and give him some suggestions because there’s a lot on his plate as it is as a quarterback in the no-huddle. But it’s really worked out well as far as the communication process goes to try and identify maybe from my perspective, OK, here comes the blitz from a certain side or a certain coverage, so this would be the best play to put us in.”
Knapp agrees with Palmer’s assessment about getting too consumed with using the no-huddle.
“It’s good right now because, it’s like any offense, if you do one thing all the time, in this league, the defensive coordinators and the defensive teams will start preparing for it and have specific things that will defeat that,” Knapp said. “But if you have it as a weapon and you can use it at different times of the game, then they’ve got to prepare not only for no-huddle, but the regular part of the offense and so it’s a good change up and it’ll catch a defense by surprise better than if you did it all the time.”
Knapp is able to communicate with Palmer via the sideline-to-helmet radio system until 15 seconds remain on the play clock. Once the play clock reaches 15, Palmer is on his own.
But Palmer is armed with information from Knapp long before the play starts for the times when he lets the play clock wind down past the communication window.
“We make sure we have certain plays in where we don’t go all the way to 5 seconds left,” Knapp said. “So, from an operations standpoint, we’ll have certain plays in where we call, line up and let’s go. And we get it done with 20 seconds left on the clock to keep a defense honest.
“But there’s certain go-to plays in the run game and the pass game that, no matter what the defense presents, we have either the protection that can handle it or the run fits will handle it. So, he’ll know if he’s inside that 15-second zone, I’ve got to call one of those plays that handle any defensive look that they present.”
– Some people are of the belief that coaches can blow up the game plan at halftime and draw up new schemes and plays for the second half.
That’s folly when you consider that halftime last for 12 minutes and about a third of that time is spent walking off the field, back onto the field, taking potty breaks, etc.
In reality, coaches have about 8 minutes to make adjustments. To that end, Knapp said, that process begins before the game and runs into the second quarter so that they can get a jump on making the necessary adjustments.
“We’ll have maybe a second-half list of ideas, that if we don’t use in the first half, we’ll make sure to apply in the beginning of the second half, as long as the defensive scheme hasn’t changed,” Knapp said. “So, it starts before the game starts. We have this list of ideas that we don’t plan to use in the first half but might use in the second half.
“Secondly, at halftime the players come off, use the restroom, get a rinse, get rehydrated and after like about 2 or 3 minutes in, we have the offense broken up, the defense broken up, and we say, ‘Here’s our list of ideas of for runs and passes that we’re going to start with.’ That starts occurring at the end of the second quarter, where John DeFilippo up in the press box is working with one of our assistants, Nick Holtz, with some ideas that I had and what they may see upstairs to create a second-half list. So, a lot of it’s done before we start halftime.”
– Knapp has been around a slew of accomplished quarterbacks. He considers Palmer one of the more poised quarterbacks he has coached during his lengthy career.
“Unbelievable,” Knapp said of Palmer’s ability to handle adversity. “He’s been one of the finest guys I’ve been around. We’ve had three games this year in the fourth quarter where we’ve had to work from behind, and he’s really kept his cool through all this.
“Not only adversity from a score in the game, but he’s had some tough hits that he’s taken, and he bounces up, he doesn’t say a word about what happened, why are we doing this? He just goes, ‘Alright, what was the problem? How do we fix it? OK, let’s move on.’ He’s one of the coolest cats I’ve ever been around on game day handling adverse situations. … It’s a unique quality because it’s hard to find that in a quarterback when a lot of stuff is coming at you.”
– Sebastian Janikowski calls Arrowhead Stadium one of his favorite venues in which to kick. A check of the numbers reveals just why.
Janikowski has converted 28 of 32 field-goal attempts at Arrowhead Stadium, including a stretch in which he made 18 straight from 2003-10.
The streak ended last season when a Janikowski 59-yarder hit the crossbar. No worry, though. Janikowski atoned for that with a game-winning field goal in overtime.
As free safety Michael Huff said, “When he is kicking at Arrowhead, he doesn’t miss.”
– Twenty players appeared on the Raiders injury report today. Backup linebacker Travis Goethel is the latest addition as a result of back spasms he suffered after practice Thursday.
Goethel is one of seven players listed as questionable. Eleven others are probable. Cornerback Shawntae Spencer and right offensive tackle Khalif Barnes are out.
Defensive lineman Desmond Bryant, who missed practice Thursday, is listed as questionable.
– As for linebacker Aaron Curry, Allen said he will decide Saturday whether to activate Curry to the 53-man roster.
Curry is making progress each day, Allen said. He participated in his sixth straight practice today without showing any negative effects from the sore knees that forced him to miss some offseason workouts, all of training camp and the first six games this season.
It’s unlikely that Curry will be activated for Sunday’s game. However, Allen said he anticipates Curry being activated, perhaps in time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game Nov. 4, if he isn’t activated for the Chiefs game.
– Palmer took a beating against the Jaguars last Sunday. He got sacked twice, hit six times and hurried on most passing downs.
Allen said afterward that the offensive line needed some work and that it would be a focus in practice this week. As the team prepared to board the buses, Allen said he is impressed by the work of his offensive line in practice all week.
“There was, obviously, a sense of urgency with the offensive line,” Allen said. “They worked hard, as I believe they have all year long. They felt a sense of, ‘Hey, we’re all proud men out here and we all want to do our job and do our job to the best of our ability, and when we don’t play as well as we want to we look forward to the opportunity of getting back out there and proving ourselves again.’ That group as a whole is looking forward to the opportunity to get back out there.”
Right offensive tackle Jared Veldheer said he and his linemates got the message loud and clear after an off game.
“There’s definitely a sense of urgency because we take a great amount of pride in what we do and how we help this team,” Veldheer said. “And when we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do, and I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do, it definitely hurts. We do take it to heart and won’t sit around and accept it. With that attitude, we’ve taken a step this week in saying, that’s not going to be who we are, it’s not our standard, we’re better than this and no more of that.”