Oakland Raiders: Can A Spread Offense Work?

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIJuly 14, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Louis Murphy #18 of the Oakland Raiders is congratulated by Darrius Heyward-Bey #12 after Murphy scored the tying touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 22, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Throughout the offseason there have been many articles and rumors about the Raiders shuffling up the defense with a 3-4 and hybrid schemes, but there could also be some new looks on the offense as well.

The Raiders have a stockpile of speed at the wide receiver position. With Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Chaz Schilens, and Johnie Le Higgins, the Raiders have four receivers who could give them a dangerous aerial attack.

Let's look at the men who would be responsible for the spread to work.


Darrius Heyward-Bey:   After a lousy rookie year (nine catches, 124 yards, one TD), it is being said that DHB has made great progress during OTAs. If he can still run as deep as he could last year, he should be the go-to-guy of the Raiders spread, but let's see how good he is in training camp when contact is allowed, before we are sold on him.

Chaz Schilens: In short, he has tons of potential, limited by injuries. If he was able to get chemistry with JaMarcus Russell, imagine how well he can connect with Jason Campbell. "Chazzilla" is the Raiders only proven WR so far, unless he is hurt.

Louis Murphy:   He led the Raiders WRs in catches, but also in drops. Add on some blown calls by the refs (week one vs. SD) and it was a tough rookie year for him, but he bounced back with the game-tying TD against Cincinatti and game-winner at Pittsburgh. He can catch in the clutch, and that is a necessity to be an NFL WR.

Johnie Lee Higgins:   Back in 2008, it looked like Higgins and Schilens would be the Raiders starters at WR for years to come. However, JLH was offset by a hard hit against San Diego on opening night. He never recovered, and now he could be further down the depth chart if Jacoby Ford has a good training camp.

Jason Campbell:   He is the QB, the most important part of any passing attack. It has been reported that he has had no trouble adjusting into Oakland's offense and he is a "quick learner." He has the tools to spread the ball around the field and if he is learning his playbook so fast, why not have him operate a spread?


Now I know that a lot of people want/expect Oakland to be a run-first team with Michael Bush and Darren McFadden, but Oakland can use a spread to diversify the offense. 

Last year, the three-man committee was expected to dominate the NFL but the Raiders got nowhere. The Raiders had a good balance of pass and run in their 2002 Super Bowl run.

So if the Raiders use a spread, how will it work?

I would use DHB as a deep threat and send him deep on almost every pass to stretch the defense. If he gets open...TOUCHDOWN!

Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy would be running posts, outs and slants to get inside/outside, while JLH or Jacoby Ford would stay near the line of scrimmage as a check down option because with their speed they could turn a check-down into a first down. Even McFadden could get involved as a back out of the backfield.