This week, the NFL regular season will open. The teams have finished trimming their final roster and have put together their practice squads. Now they will turn their attention to the game plan. For the Oakland Raiders, it will begin Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
At this point, it is becoming easier to connect the dots that quarterback Terrelle Pryor will be under center against the Colts. Raiders' head coach Dennis Allen is still playing coy about the situation, but evidence points to Pryor at quarterback. If that is the case, he and running back Darren McFadden could find plenty of running room against the Colts defense. Certainly each year teams change, but in the case of the Colts, their Achilles heel has been stopping the run for years. It is an advantage the Raiders must take to be competitive.
Everyone knows Andrew Luck will present a serious challenge for the Oakland defense. One way to limit his opportunities will be keeping possession with the running game. The Raiders struggled last season to run the ball successfully, but when McFadden went for more than 100 yards on the ground they won each game. New offensive coordinator Greg Olson is going back to the power running scheme which better suits the Raiders best offensive option.
The Colts finished last season ranked 29th in the NFL against the run, yielding over 137 yards per game. As bad as the Raiders run defense was a season ago, they were significantly better than the Colts giving up 118 yards per game. Last season in four out of the Colts' five losses, running backs had great days. Matt Forte had 80 rushing yards, Maurice Jones-Drew went for 177 yards, Shonn Greene broke loose for 161 yards and Arian Foster gained 165. Between Pryor and McFadden, the Raiders have a potentially formidable attack. It is up to the execution of the offensive line, the play calling of Olson, and the instincts of Pryor to take off when he has lanes.
The Colts made some additions on their defense to alleviate some of the run concerns. They added hard hitting safety La'ron Landry, defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois, big nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, and drafted defensive end/ outside linebacker Bjoern Werner. However, it remains an area the Raiders will attack until the Colts prove it is improved.
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