Some people wonder why I have to keep defending Pep Hamilton. Well, it is because articles like this one are just a complete fallacy, and it is so easily proven. All you have to do is incorporate even the tiniest bit of logic, and you will see how silly this notion is that Pep Hamilton is "forcing" the issue of being a running team. Let's look at the simple numbers first...
- Pass attempts: 23
- Rush attempts: 26
Now, for the simple-minded person, or maybe just the guy that didn't watch the game and only checks the box score real quick. This certainly looks like a pass/rush ratio of 47/53. Yikes, what's going on?
However, an astute reader of the box score will look a little further into the numbers...
Hmm, so only 20 carries went to dedicated ball runners. Interesting.
Now, we also see in the box score, 4 sacks. That ups the number of plays from above from 49 to 53. It also is a hint that because we know Luck is a pass first QB, his 6 carries are probably QB scrambles and not designed run plays (and of course if we actually watched the game, we know this to be true). That of course means he dropped back to pass, but ended up running, which was NOT by design.
So, what do we actually end up with here? Well for starters, the actual number of designed run plays is 20 out of 53 total, or 38%. Guess what, that number is even less than the 40% that the author of the linked article is asking for! The other 62% of the called plays were passing plays. Crystal clear evidence that the problem was not in the over usage of running plays, but in the execution of the passing game.
OK, so now that the theory is debunked, what exactly is the problem, and yes, there is a problem. The eyes don't lie, and we all saw something we didn't like. Well, defense concerns aside (a whole other issue), the offense as stated above failed in execution, specifically, in the passing game. To support this claim, you need to look no further than the 4.45 YPC by our two backs. Not Earth shattering, but certainly respectable, and actually quite necessary for setting up an effective play-action pass. As it turns out, the failures were as follows...
- The Offensive Line - No real surprise here I don't think. Until our two draft picks can get in there as starters, I can still hold out hope that they will improve. Even as they stand now, they are in fact better than last year, but only marginally, and they were so bad last year, it still could spell potential danger for our Franchise QB. They simply have to get better. They started off kind of good, and Luck looked like a surgeon picking apart the defense when even given just a decent amount of time to make his reads.
- Andrew Luck - As great as he is, he made some young QB mistakes that I truly hope he can learn from. He failed to pick up the blitz, most notably, the CB blitz and adjust at the line. He also needs to learn to chuck the ball out of bounds when appropriate. That 2 yard loss and "sack" where he was just pushed out of bounds was really inexcusable. Just throw it out of bounds. Of course I have faith he will in fact learn from these things. He protected the ball pretty good and was really accurate, so there is way more positive than negative here.
- Pep Hamilton - Now, just because I am defending Pep on this bogus "too much rushing" claim, doesn't mean I think he is without blame. I will preface it first though by saying, it was his first ever NFL game as an OC! So what could he have done differently? Well, he needs to understand when and how to make adjustments as the game goes along obviously. When the Raiders started having success bringing the pass rush, he should of dialed up some short stuff, especially some screens or quick slants.
Like many others here, I'd like to see "more" from this offense, but we only ran 53 total plays which is really low. The defense did not do a good job at all in getting our offense back out on the field. That non-called PI was really a head scratcher, and potentially changed the direction of the game. All in all, I would probably grade the offense on a whole as a B-. They have their work cut out for them this weekend facing a much improved Dolphins defense, and that OL is going to really get tested.