How the Oakland Raiders imposed their will on the Denver Broncos

Often, teams talk about imposing their will on an opponent.

As an offensive line coach, I teach my players to execute their blocks efficiently and repeatedly, to wear down a defense and eventually break their will — thereby controlling the game from then on out and imposing your own will/

Attempting to control the line of scrimmage, establishing the run game, and burying a team in the late stages of a tough game are all ways to impose one’s will.

Against the Denver Broncos, the Oakland Raiders did just that. According to left tackle Donald Penn, the Raiders went so far as to run the exact same play 10 times in a row.

In this article, I plan to look at Latavius Murray’s three touchdown runs from the 1-yard line.

While going over the film from the game, I noticed something very interesting — all three runs were the exact same play call.

And what is more is that the Broncos knew exactly what was coming, yet still had no answer to stop the play.

Impose. Your. Will.

Touchdown number 1:

As simple dive play, the blocking is schemed thus:

Playside Tight End (TE1) and Jumbo Tight End (JTE) Denver Kirkland double team the down end if the end is lined up head up on TE1 or in the gap between JTE and TE1. IF the end is lined up outside (JTE is uncovered), then TE1 has an out block on the down end, and JTE gets to second level and blocks the first back-seven defender that crosses his face.

Left Tackle (LT) has an out block if covered with play side gap open, and ideally gets movement on the down lineman, turning his body so his ass is in the play side gap, cutting off the down lineman from making the play.

Left Guard (LG) and Center (C) double team the one-technique (1T), ideally getting movement off the ball and allowing the LG to scrape off the block and pick up the first back-seven defender that crosses his face.

Right Guard (RG) and Right Tackle (RT) double team the three-technique (3T), and much like the play side double team, ideally get movement off the end, allowing the RG to scrape off the block and pick up the first back-seven defender that crosses his face.

Backside Tight End (TE2) has a simple scoop block — a block where he attempts to cross the face of the down defender in his outside gap, getting his butt turned towards the play and cutting off the defender from scraping down and making a tackle-for-loss(TFL).

This block is key for two reasons, first being that it prevents the backside end from making a play and getting a TFL, and second in that if the play side blocking gets blown up, there is a natural cutback lane on the backside as the unblocked backside defender flies over the top to make a tackle play side, getting sucked inside the blocking.

The Fullback (FB) has arguably the most important block in the entire play design — a lead isolation (ISO) block on the free linebacker(LB). With only two players schemed to be unblocked (backside defender outside of TE2 and the free interior LB), the biggest block here is that ISO by the FB on the LB. The running back (RB) has to read the block of the FB and react accordingly.

If the FB does as designed, where he hits the hole and gets his helmet on the play side of the LB to cut him off from the gap, the RB  essentially gets into the end zone untouched. If the FB whiffs or his hat placement is wrong, the LB either blows the play up in the backfield or forces the RB to slow his momentum, allowing other defenders to come up and make a play.

Despite the fact that the 1T stalemates the double team attempt by the LG and C, the duo sustains the block long enough to create a lane for the RB, and the linebacker behind the 1T fills the gap hesitantly, allowing the LG to scrape off and make a block.

With the success of the FB’s block on the LB, the RB has no need to hesitate or cut back and goes right over the pile into the end zone for the first touchdown(TD) of the game.

Touchdown #2:

Again, the raiders line up in a jumbo package with two tight ends, a FB, and a Jumbo TE that is actually a 6th offensive lineman.

This time, the Broncos see it and make an adjustment call, blitzing the gap the Raiders ran to on the last TD.

It is widely known that the Raiders not only have a fantastic interior offensive line, but that they also favor running behind their LT/LG combo of Donald Penn and Kelechi Osemele, a duo only rivaled by the Dallas Cowboys.

Despite the blitz being shown, nothing within the blocking scheme is changed.

By blitzing the the LB that FB Jamize Olawale is responsible for rather than, say, the LB stacked over the 1T into the B-Gap between LT and LG which would cause the blocks to be altered, making that key double team turn into a down block by the C and LG, which would have allowed the 1T a chance to shoot the gap and play disruptive.

With Olawale making the key ISO block here, squaring the LB up and giving Murray a two-way go, Murray has a free and clear lane again to the endzone.

Touchdown #3

Again, the exact same pay with the exact same result.

The only offensive line to rival the one in Oakland resides in Dallas.

Now here are a couple alterations in the scheme, mostly from a defensive perspective.

While the defense again blitzes the LB that Olawale is responsible for, the key difference here is the “cut” technique used the end lined up to the outside shade of the LT.

In essence, the cut technique calls for the down linemen, to cut the legs of an offensive lineman, much like a cut block, to create a pile and limit running space for the back.

On top of that, the LB that is stacked behind the 1T creeps at the last second, not in time for the LG and C to recognize and adjust. What this does is creates a major pileup in the intended gap.

Now, remember I mentioned earlier how the backside blocks are just as key? This is why. With the RG and RT executing their blocks properly, and TE2 getting a good hook on the backside end, there is no one crashing from the backside to make a play on the runner. Murray is able to plant back and soar over the line for touchdown number three on the night.

And that, my friends, is how you impose your will on a defense.

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