Mr. Knapp, That’s Not the Issue

I don’t blog about football much, even though I live or die (mostly die, in recent years) with the Oakland Raiders, whose offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp, has been under fire for the last two weeks because the running game he coordinates is next to last in the league.

“Let’s keep things in perspective for a second here,” Knapp said, before any questions were asked. “We’ve played two games in the regular season on offense. We’ve had two different centers and a right tackle who played half a game last week. We need some patience. You can’t develop a scheme in two weeks in a regular season, especially when last week we faced the No. 3-ranked rush defense from 2011 and the week before they held the No. 2 rush offense in the league to 2.4 yards per carry, the Houston Texans.

“That was a good team we faced last week. The scheme will be fine. It just takes some time.”

My reply to that is this: yes, Mr. Knapp, we know it takes time to learn a new offensive scheme. But that’s not really the issue. The issue is that you, as offensive coordinator, inherited a running game that was one of the best in the NFL last season. It was part of an offense that managed to be effective despite losing its starting quarterback in mid-season and having to work with a replacement who’d come in sans training.  You knew that the implementation of an entirely new scheme would take time, especially for the offensive line, which would have to relearn new blocking assignments and timing. The question for you is why you thought the change to a new system would be worth that cost. Assuming the changes you started eventually take hold and the Raider offense becomes effective again, how many games and how much time will have to be lost just to make the Raider offense as effective as it was before you started? Can those lost games and that lost time be considered as anything other than waste?

In many ways these aren’t questions to address to Greg Knapp. It’s really more of an issue for Head Coach Dennis Allen, who set the Raiders on this course by hiring Knapp. Why did Allen think these alterations were worth it? It seems to me that all Allen has accomplished by letting Knapp redesign the offense is to make life for Allen and his players much more complicated and painful than it needs to be.

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