Raiders using bye week to fix running game
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio plans to have his team spend part of the bye week trying to figure out how to fix a running game that was supposed to be a focal point of its offense.
The Raiders are averaging 90 yards a game on the ground - sixth-lowest in the NFL - and have topped the 100-yard mark as a team just once.
Injuries and a lack of consistent commitment in the play-calling have been two of biggest stumbling blocks, though issues along the offensive line have also factored in.
It's certainly not the scenario management envisioned when it hired offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to upgrade a unit that was the worst in the NFL in 2014 and one that hasn't ranked higher than 12th in the last four seasons.
Yet after five games the situation hasn't gotten much better and is a big reason why Oakland is 2-3.
''We know what has to get done,'' leading rusher Latavius Murray said Tuesday. ''I'll put it on me. It starts with me being the best runner I could be and trusting those guys up front.''
Murray, given the starting job in the offseason, has looked good at times but he's been unable to stay healthy and on the field. He rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in a Week 3 win over Cleveland but has just 88 yards on 28 carries in the two games since.
A sixth-round draft pick in 2013, Murray ran the ball just twice in the second half of last week's 16-10 loss to Denver because of a shoulder injury. That came on the heels of Oakland's loss in Chicago when he was pulled out of the game in the second half after fumbling and letting a pass bounce off his chest that was intercepted.
Against the Broncos, Murray's absence was clearly felt in the second half when the Raiders ran the ball just nine times despite it being a one-score game for most of the afternoon.
Overall, Oakland has run the ball 112 times this season. Only Minnesota, Denver, New England, Detroit and Miami have fewer rushing attempts, though Murray doesn't believe that's the sole reason for the Raiders' struggles.
''When you look at some of the runs, there's a difference of one popping for a long one and not,'' Murray said. ''It's not a matter of when or how many times. It's just a matter of making the most of the carries that we do get.''
The Raiders average a respectable 4.0 yards per carry and Murray is 10th overall in the NFL with 336 yards. Both numbers are misleading.
Nearly a quarter of Oakland's 450 yards on the ground came on four plays - a 54-yard run by Murrray, a 20-yarder by Murray, a 24-yard scramble by quarterback Derek Carr and a 12-yard gain by third-down back Roy Helu Jr.
A lack of depth hasn't helped, either.
That's why the bye week comes at a good time for the Raiders and their beleaguered running game.
''It's obviously a good time to get some rest, relax and heal up,'' Murray said. ''It's some time off and that always helps. We believe in each other and that's the main thing going forward. We just have to make sure we're playing better at the end to finish off games.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL