Carson Palmer: 4 Adjustments That Could Lead the Oakland Raiders to the Playoffs
As Raiders fans recall, this is not the first time the West Coast offense has been used in Oakland.
Former Raiders head coaches Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan were very successful running their versions of the West Coast offense, and the results were three trips to the playoffs and one Super Bowl appearance.
Will the Oakland Raiders be successful with a West Coast offense run by quarterback Carson Palmer?
Let’s take a look at some of the adjustments he’ll need to make to help lead the Oakland Raiders to the playoffs in 2012.
Utilize the Short and Underneath Routes
Carson Palmer is used to big passing numbers by throwing the long ball.
During his seven years with the Bengals, he averaged 3,242 passing yards with a 167-116 touchdown to interception ratio. However, a big arm is not always a great fit in the West Coast offense. Palmer will need to learn to not rely on that newly healed, strong arm and focus on the strengths of this new offense.
Short, horizontal passing attacks mean quick decision making and getting the ball away quickly. Snap, one- to three-step drop and ball away. That’s it.
No one in Raider History showed this better than Rich Gannon versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002.
Trusting the Wide Receivers
This is the area where Palmer just does not have the tools that former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon had.
Jerry Rice and Tim Brown circa 2004 are not part of this 2012 Raiders team.
That being said, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore are going to have a heavy load of passes coming their way.
Palmer will need to trust in their ability to separate and catch in tight coverage. That is the foundation of the West Coast offense, and if Palmer can master the timing of throwing those routes, he’ll need to trust that Heyward-Bey, Moore, Jacoby Ford and Juron Criner will do the rest.
Utilize Your Backs out of the Backfield
Carson Palmer would be wise to check down early and often to running back Darren McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece. Both have great hands and speed on the corners.
Raider fans will recall the success the team had in 2002 with the quickness and speed of Charlie Garner. Darren McFadden can be that and more.
Think on Your Feet
Carson Palmer is not known as a scrambling quarterback, but he will need to be light on his feet this season.
As we’ve seen from West Coast-style quarterbacks Rich Gannon, Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers and others, the ability to scramble and make plays is essential.
If no options are available, Palmer will need to pull the ball down, utilize his feet and rush for positive yards.
Is this asking too much from a quarterback who in eight years has never rushed for more than 100 yards in an entire season? Perhaps, but a mobile quarterback is essential for a successful West Coast offense.
We're not asking Palmer to be Michael Vick, but the Raiders will need him to be mobile enough to make plays.