Breaking Down Oakland Raiders Defense in Shutout Performance

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Breaking Down Oakland Raiders Defense in Shutout Performance
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Lamarr Houston dominated the Chiefs.

The Oakland Raiders defense had a shutout on Sunday. I’d understand if you didn’t believe it, but you can take a look at the official game book just to verify. The Raiders didn’t allow a single point, after allowing 30.9 points per game over the first 13 games of the season.

Oakland’s defense has been one of the worst units in the entire league, and that’s why a shutout came as a surprise—even if it was against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs came into the game averaging 15 points per game, and the Raiders allowed the Chiefs to score 16 in Week 8.

Despite the opponent, the defensive production was impressive. It was also Oakland’s first win without Rolando McClain at middle linebacker since he was drafted. The Raiders knocked around Brady Quinn and stuffed Jamaal Charles. The only player the Raiders had trouble stopping was Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt.

Since it was against a team like Kansas City, it’s only natural to wonder if the shutout was the result of good defense or bad offense. The Chiefs were without Dwayne Bowe because he was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week, so they were down to just Charles as an offensive weapon. 

 

Defensive-Line Domination

The biggest thing the Raiders did on Sunday was dominate the line of scrimmage.

Everyone knows Charles is the only real weapon the Chiefs have right now, and stopping the run was going to be a key for the Raiders.

The Raiders stopped the run in a big way, and Lamarr Houston played a key role. Defensive ends in a 4-3 set the edge, and Charles loves to turn the corner. Keeping Charles inside and swarming to tackle is usually the best way to stop him.

In the first quarter, Houston blew through tight end Steve Maneri to stop Charles. The Chiefs realized quickly that a tight end would not be able to block Houston, and they dedicated Eric Winston to him the rest of the game. Notice how Matt Shaughnessy also collapsed the edge and Tommy Kelly had pushed his blocker backward a yard.

With Charles not able to get any yards on the ground, the Raiders pass rush got going. Houston again made his presence known.

The Raiders rushed only three defenders on this play, but one of them was Houston with a one-on-one with right tackle Eric Winston.

Houston didn’t get the sack, and Quinn actually completed the pass for a yard, but the Chiefs turned it over on downs. This was a fourth-down play; the Chiefs could have gone for the field goal, but they didn’t, and Houston’s pass rush forced Quinn to check it down.

Kelly also got a sack when he was given a one-on-one opportunity, against center Ryan Lilja. Houston had been causing so much disruption that Kansas City’s right guard and right tackle both decided to block him, which left Lilja in too much space to stop Kelly.

Desmond Bryant also applied pressure by beating Jeff Allen, and Andre Carter had his way with Donald Stephenson at left tackle. Matt Shaughnessy played limited snaps, but did well against the run.

The entire defensive line punished the Chiefs, but the catalyst was Houston, both against the run and the pass.

 

Playing Off the Pressure

The Raiders did a good job flying to the football on Sunday, even when Quinn was able to complete passes. Quinn didn’t have enough time in the pocket to try to throw anything deep, so the Raiders mixed in several different strategies to stop the short pass.

The defensive backs often had man coverage with a single safety help otherwise known as Cover 1. Oakland’s young cornerbacks knocked the wide receivers off their routes and made sure that Brady could only attempt short passes all afternoon.

The other thing the Raiders did was rush only three or four players on third down. The linebackers would cover the short zone and drive on any footballs thrown to receivers in front of them.

The Raiders executed this game plan perfectly.

Philip Wheeler was especially active and made several nice tackles after short completions. Quinn didn’t have time to go deep, so even on 3rd-and-long he had to get rid of the ball quickly. Wheeler broke on this play and made a solid open-field tackle against one of the more agile players in the NFL.

 

Bad Offense

Despite a dominating performance by the defensive line, a team like the Raiders would need some help to complete the shutout. The Chiefs offense was truly terrible in several areas.

Quinn threw an interception: He correctly read man coverage while Dexter McCluster read something else. McCluster broke off his route while Quinn threw to where he would have been if he hadn't stopped.

The ball was easily intercepted by Joselio Hanso, who basically continued to run McCluster's route for him. 

When Quinn did hit his receivers, they wasted the opportunities by dropping balls. Jamar Newsome had a perfectly executed pass hit right in his hands and tumble to the ground. A catch there would have given the Chiefs a first down and a big chunk of yards.

Perhaps no miscue was more entertaining that Quinn's six-second conniption waiting for Lilja to snap the ball on 4th-and-goal. Quinn did everything he could to get Lilja to snap the ball except walk up behind him and pull the ball out of Lilja’s backside.

The Chiefs had opportunities to score in the red zone by taking field goals, but chose to go for it and failed to convert.

It was great defensive-line play, a good game plan, a bad offense and Kansas City's decision to go for seven points instead of three that combined to make the shutout possible. 

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