Greg Knapp, beginning his second stint as Raiders offensive coordinator, gave a progress report after two preseason games. Knapp is installing a new offense, a version of the west coast attack, and a zone-blocking scheme. After being shut out by Dallas, the Raiders offense played better in a 31-27 loss to Arizona but continued to struggle in the red zone. Their third preseason game will be against the Lions on Saturday night in Oakland.
Are you about where you had hoped to be at this point?
Knapp: “Yeah. I'm pleased. It may not show up on the scoreboard right now. We need to improve our scoring production, but there's been quite a few changeable parts on offense along with learning a new system, and I did see, as I told the offense after the second game, good improvement from Game 1 to Game 2. We're moving the ball well. We just got to do a better job of finishing.”
There's been a lot of discussion about the goal-line plays (against Arizona) where you used Darren McFadden for a few carries instead of putting in a bigger goal-line back. Can you explain why you did that?
Knapp: “I've always had a belief that the No. 1 back can still be the goal-line back. It doesn't necessarily have to be a bigger, stronger guy. My experience tells me so. The last couple years with Arian Foster, had a lot of success. Warrick Dunn was one of the best inside tackle runners that I've ever been around as a coach. It's not just the back. It requires the execution of the play. So it didn't bother me to have him in there. We just didn't get it executed across the board.”
How different is McFadden than when you were here before during his rookie season in 2008?
Knapp: His ability to see the hole is exciting. I've seen the growth in his vision in the run game. Where he identifies, ‘OK, here's my chance to do the one-cut, downhill or one-cut bounce move. That part's been exciting as well as his blitz pickups. He's got a better understanding of seeing the safety rotation and identifying blitzes, and that's made him a more well-rounded running back so we can play him on all downs.”
How has quarterback Carson Palmer picked up the offense, and how has he played so far?
Knapp: “He's done well. I was very impressed with the first game. He was 3 of 6, but we had two drops and we took a shot down the field. In the second game we moved the ball very well, and he had a couple critical third-down conversions. So I'll look at third down and red zone to get a feel for the progress of a quarterback, and I saw an improvement in our third-down decision making. There was less indecision. The ball was out quicker. I told the offense from Day 1 because I've gone through these startups -- it's like a startup company for me; we're teaching a brand new offense to these guys -- that the hardest part is the red zone. And that is because there's less space for the defense to cover. So things happen faster. And that's just something that needs a lot of reps, and from my experience, it's a yearlong process to really get efficient in the red zone.”
Carson said he'll make throws in the preseason games that he wouldn't normally make in the regular season or may test things out to see how they work. Is that easy to flip the switch on in the regular season?
Knapp: “Yes, with a veteran it is. And I've encouraged it. I've encouraged it from Day 1. My belief is that for a quarterback to learn a new offense, you got to try some stuff. And I'll sacrifice some of the ups and downs with that. It's like all of our professions, isn't it? If you make some mistakes, you usually grow from it. And that's what I want him to do in the preseason since the games aren't held accountable, so to speak. You still want to win, you still want to have that taste of it, but he's got to test his limits then. It's very important that quarterbacks who are new to the system -- him and Terrelle (Pryor) primarily here -- take some chances and get a feel for, ‘OK, what can I do and what can't I do?' while it's preseason. And then what I typically do after his third game, then we harness it down and we have some information, i.e. the tape, to say, ‘Here's why we won't do that as much.'”
Follow Raiders reporter Eric Gilmore on Twitter: @CBSSportsNFLOAK.