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Thursday, November 3, 2011
Raiders' offense looking for right combo

By Bill Williamson

Apparently, the Oakland Raiders just haven’t had enough skill-position combinations this season.

So, here comes T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The Raiders are adding the veteran receiver to an offense that has used more skill-position combinations than any team in the NFL this season. Through seven games, the 4-3 Raiders have used 171 personnel combinations at receiver, tight end and in the backfield. It is 19 more combinations than Jacksonville, which has used the second-most combinations, and much higher than the league average. Only 13 teams have had more than 100 combinations.

Expect Oakland’s numbers to rise when Houshmandzadeh, who was signed Tuesday, gets in the mix as soon as Sunday against Denver. Houshmandzadeh caught 34 touchdown passes in five seasons from new Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer while they were in Cincinnati.

I think the reason why Oakland has had so many personnel combinations at skill positions are three fold.

They have had injuries at all five spots.

Hue Jackson is looking for the right receiver combinations as he has many talented players, but he has yet to settle on a top receiving tandem.

Jackson is creative and his offense revolves around rotations and keeping defenses off balance.

Jackson has used two combinations a team-leading 24 times. Here they are:

Kevin Boss, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Manase Tonga, Denarius Moore.

Derek Hagan, McFadden, Marcel Reece, Brandon Myers, Moore.

The second combination won’t happen again. Hagan was cut to make room for Houshmandzadeh.The first combination will likely decrease because Reece is healthy and Tonga will likely play less. Thus, expect the combination bingo to continue in Oakland.