First of all, I want to let it be known that since the beginning of the season, I have been on record saying that I don't like Raye for a multitude of reasons. He lacks imagination, predictable, late halftime adjustments- if any at all, hard headed with adjusting to the offensive personnel's strengths, etc. In fact, I find it odd that I am now taking this stance on Raye. Perhaps I am finally taking off my haterade shades.
Now most of the talk everywhere is how the Niners should go with the Spread Offense (although everyone has their own definition of it) because it is best suited for the weapons on this team. Smith and Crabtree did this kind of offense in college, Davis is the kind of TE that you can split wide out, Gore has shown he can run in the shotgun and is a great pass catcher, etc.
Well, it seems that Raye has been going into the Spread a little late in games, in fact, only going to it when we are down by a few scores (i.e. Texans, Packers). In some games, the close ones (Colts, Bears), it seems like he hasn't gone to the spread at all.
Now is the reasoning for all of this because he's just plain hard headed? Or is it because Raye knows something that the rest of us don't know? I personally think it's a couple of things:
1. Everything learned in TC was based on the premise that this was going to be a smashmouth, run-first offense. Therefore: completely changing the scheme would be difficult to do during the season – meaning it would have occur in slow steps (and it has, I gotta admit it)
2. The QB and #1 WR are different from the season opener (Both familiar with the Spread)
3. Raye is still learning what his players are capable of doing.
Now let's look back at the Titans game. Prior to this game, Smith HAD to go into the spread in the 2nd half of the Texans game being down 21, and had 1 start under his belt against the Colts. Aside from preseason, where he didn't show anything, Raye hadn't seen too much of Smith in game-time situations, but he still put it in Smith's hands to be in the Spread Offense in the beginning of the Titans game, and rightfully so because the Titans pass defense was horrid at that point. What happened? Smith had a turnover heavy game. A really bad game for him. I think at that point, Raye was a little reluctant to open it up in the beginning of the game like he did in that game.
The next game against the Bears, Smith throws a pick on a deep play, and then Raye turns the playcalling into super conservative mode. Then with the Packers, Raye was probably scared to go into the Spread because the Packers have an excellent secondary, but was forced to go into it when being down 3 scores.
So bottom line, do I think Raye is a complete idiot? No. I think he's "protecting" this young offense, because I really think we can be doing worse (we have been worse in recent years). Do I think what he’s doing is justified? Yes, to a certain degree. Do I think he can do better? Absolutely.
If Raye comes back next season as OC, I wouldn’t be surprised. No, the offense isn’t as good as it was last year with Martz, but it is better than what it was with Hostler and McCarthy (arguable vs. season with Norv as OC). If he was kept in next year, Singletary will have accomplished something Nolan never did: retain an OC for a second year. As crazy as it sounds, continuity might be what this team is missing.