Oakland Raiders Owner Al Davis Is Revolutionizing the Game

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst INovember 3, 2010

Oakland Raiders Owner Al Davis Is Revolutionizing the Game

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    Al Davis is one of the great minds in NFL football still but people have only the seen the bad lately. However, Davis has revolutionized the game of football many times over.

    The reason why is because he is willing to take risks and they don't always turn out well. The bottom line the fact that he give guys that wouldn't normally get an opportunity to do something special.

    He may look at times but but when it's good, it changes the game. 

    Turn the page to see how Davis is doing it again.  

Past Revolutionary Moves: Charlie Smith

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    The Oakland Raiders were among the first to use running backs in the the down field passing game. Men like Charlie Smith and Clem Daniels were regularly used down field in the passing game.

    Smith is most known for the 43-yard touchdown catch he made that set up the Raiders recovery of a fumbled kickoff return for a touchdown. It's called the "Heidi Bowl" because the game was was cut for the show to air on television.

    Only the Raider fans at the game were there to see the thrilling finish. Again, his play was an illustration of how Raider running backs were used to make big plays in the passing game.

    Every Raider play was designed to reach the endzone back then.

Past Revolutionary Moves: Dave Casper

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    Another position that Davis and the Raiders helped revolutionize was the tight end position. They were originally a third tackle that caught a pass every once in a while.

    When tight ends did catch a pass, it usually was a short, check-down type of pass. Davis and his Raiders changed that in the '70s with Dave Casper.

    Casper was a primary receiver type of tight end that was a part of the Raider's vertical passing attack. "Ghost to the post" was among Casper's most memorable plays.

    It was the start of how the use of tight ends changed. 

Past Revolutionary Moves: Todd Christensen

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    Todd Christensen was a little further down the evolution of Davis' tight end. He was the first tight end to catch over 90 balls with 92 in 1984.

    But what Christensen really meant was a tight end could used as a number one receiver. He was always looked for on third down to move the chains and often found.

    He along with Kellen Winslow Sr. are the reason San Diego Charger tight end Antonio Gates and Atlanta Falcon tight end Tony Gonzales are who they are.

    The tight end position really started to evolve in the '80s. 

Past Revolutionary Moves: Marcus Allen

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    Before Marshall Faulk broke his record, Marcus Allen had the record for total yards from scrimmage for a season. Allen was the best pass catching and most complete running back in NFL history.

    Also before Faulk, Allen was a good enough route runner to line up at wide receiver. Some even believed that he would be of better use as a wide receiver as he was coming out of USC.

    Splitting Allen out wide gave the Raiders a linebacker mismatch to go vertical on. When the linebacker didn't go with him, the Raiders knew the opposing team was in zone coverage.

    It didn't matter much though because Allen was a tough cover for even a corner.

The Evolution of Wide Receivers

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    We are now in the era of the huge wide receiver.

    Terrell Owens is 6'3, 225 pound and Calvin Johnson is 6'5. 235 pounds. They have revolutionized the game with their size and their sub 4.4 speed.

    They can go over the middle.

    They can run after the catch.

    They can run by you and catch the deep ball.

Marcel Reece was One of Those Receivers in College

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Reece was a 6'3, 240 pound receiver at the university of Washington.

    He ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day but the rap on him was "spotty hands" in college. His collegiate coach also questioned his commitment to blocking of all things.

    This would hurt his chances of getting drafted in 2008.

    However, Reece was a vertical threat at Washington as had a 98 yard touchdown catch in his time there. Davis saw the height, weight, and speed and decided he was worth bringing in as an undrafted free agent.

    He already drafted a fast running back in Darren McFadden, so Davis the visionary, had a plan for Reece's speed.

Reece's Role

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    When Reece first arrived in Raider Nation, Davis tried him out at tight end. He obviously wanted to use his speed mismatch along with McFadden and the track team of receivers.

    But the Raiders already had a young star at tight end in Zach miller. Brandon Myers then came to Raider Nation in 2009 and things didn't look so good as far as Reece getting on the field.

    But Davis kept the speedster on the practice squad and got an idea.

    He must have thought, "If I could get this guy to block in the run game for me, we can unleash him on deep routes against linebackers."

    Davis then had Reece put on another 10 pounds to develope for his new position.

Reece's Development

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    With all the gifts Reece had, there was difficulty getting on the field because Reece wasn't used to blocking linebackers. There's a certain physicality involved in taking on a 250-270 pound linebacker.

    That's a far cry from blocking a corner and he was criticized for that in college. But Reece had to learn to do it because all the opposing team would have to do is put dime personnel in with when he's in the game.

    Running backs Darren McFadden and Michael Bush need to be led through the hole on running plays. Reece's work was cut out for him as he had a change in mentality ahead of him.

    That is one extreme change to have to make.

Reece's First Sign

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    Reece showed his first sign of being a play maker in the preseason against the San Francisco 49ers. He caught a bomb from quarterback Jason Campbell and Raider Nation took notice.

    However, he struggled to block in the running game and we know what fullback's first duty is. I as well as other were very critical of his blocking and thought he needed to be used more sparingly.

    Darren McFadden was coming into his own and he sure doesn't need another injury.

Reece Has Arrived

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    Reece has tremendously improved his blocking over the last few games. He was especially instrumental in McFadden's 165-yard effort in their win against the Denver Broncos.

    And by the way, he is still an awesome weapon in the passing game.

    After making  an occasional play in the beginning of the season, Raider offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has called his number a little more. Reece has rewarded the Raiders especially in the last couple of games.

    Against the Broncos, Reece cleared the way for McFadden and had 7-39 running the ball. He also had a 19 yard catch in the Raider's blowout of the Broncos.

    Against the Seahawks the fullback had 2-32 on the ground and 3-90 receiving while assisting with another 100-yard game for McFadden. On the season, Reece is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and 13.2 per catch.

    How impressive is that?

    But the way he's done it is more impressive.

    He scored a 30-yard touchdown on a screen pass just like Larry Centers or Tom Rathman had done in their day. But then he did something the other two couldn't do by catching a 50-yard bomb.

    A fullback going deep is a weapon the likes the NFL has never seen.

    Al Davis has done it again!

    I hope you enjoyed the slide show