The Oakland Raiders defense hit their stride and took the aggression to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. They were able to get to Donovan McNabb six times and were able keep him from getting him into a rhythm. The Eagles offense failed to make the end zone and could only manage three field goals.
It would stand to reason that the Raiders would want to bring the house again when the Jets come to town on Sunday. With the Jets sporting a rookie quarterback who is coming off a horrible performance, the logical move would be to bring pressure and keep him from finding the groove that he had to open the season.
With the Jets in disarry and in the midst of a three game losing streak and Sanchez in a personal slump, they are ripe for the Raiders to beat them for the second consecutive year. However, for this to happen, the Raiders defense will have to once again rise to the occasion.
Unlike the Eagles, the Jets will bring a rushing attack with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. This tandem has the Jets as the second best rushing team in the NFL, and the Raiders defense is ranked #28 against the run. Defensive coordinator John Marshall addressed the Jets running game, “Both those guys are like clones. They are. They have great eyes, big eyes to find the hole. You look at their film and most of their long runs come on cutbacks, where the point of attack is taken care of but they find where the hole is. They have great acceleration through the hole. They’re in top speed on the second step. They really are. That’s not a exaggeration. Those guys can turn a good, solid NFL back that can 5 yards, they can turn it into a 35-yarder just because of their acceleration.”
That sounds like exactly the type of plays that have dogged the Raiders for the past several years. The Raiders will have to be disciplined in their gaps and able to make the first tackle. If the Raiders miss a tackle, it is an explosive play waiting to happen.
The talk of the Raider Nation was the blitzes the Raiders unleashed against the Eagles. Marshall was mostly pleased with the results of the multiple blitzes. “We liked the success of the pressures from a pass standpoint. The thing I didn’t like is that what can happen to you on pressure situations is they popped a long run on us. That happened just because we had a pressure on ad they blocked it.”
The cautionary note that could be taken from that statement is that the Eagles were able to break off a long run because they picked up one of the Raiders blitzes. The Jets are one of the top running teams. Ergo, don’t expect the Raiders to blitz as much to avoid giving up the big play.
The conventional wisdom is that the Raiders should blitz Sanchez early and often to keep him out of sync like they did with McNabb, but Marshall wasn’t so sure of that approach, “I don’t know. I’ve coached with Pete Carroll and Pete has talked to me about him. That guy is a really mentally tough guy. I think what he experienced last week, I think his mental toughness will carry him. He’s not going to go into the tank, he’s not going to get rattled. Do I hope we shake him up good? Yeah, an interception first series would be good.”
The upshot of everything is that the Oakland Raiders have a history of not blitzing, and despite the success of blitzing in one game don’t be surprised if there are no blitzes, but excuses for no blitzes on Monday.
Rob Calonge will be posting live updates throught Sunday’s game live from the press box. Stay tuned to TFDS for expert news and analysis throughout the game.