The Oakland Raiders Overcome Adversity With Diversity
Let's take a look at how the Raiders showed diversity in the gameplan starting with the defense.
Usually watching the Raiders defense is pretty predictable: 90 percent of the game will be man to man, there will be a four man rush, and Nnamdi will shut down the receiver on the left side of the field.
But that is nothing like the defense we saw from the Raiders against the Eagles. For one, Nnamdi was taken out early with an injury after being poked in the eye and missed the whole second half.
Normally the Raiders blitz less than any other team in the NFL. Sunday, the Raider defense resembled the Eagles blitz happy scheme.
The Raiders only run man defense? Yeah right. That was the most zone coverage I've seen from the Raiders since, well, the preseason.
You think they only run a four man front with a four man rush? Well think again. On passing downs they showed three man and even two man fronts.
Also we got a good look at the wolverine package: a nickel formation where a third safety comes in near the line of scrimmage.
And yes they blitzed out of the wolverine. Michael Huff came free forcing an errant pass by McNabb which resulted in a big 3rd down incompletion.
On a few occasions the Raiders even dropped defensive tackles into coverage.
How did this help the Raider win? It obviously confused Donavon McNabb as apparent by his sub 50 percent completion rate. As well as bringing a lot of pressure, as apparent by the six sacks, by four different defenders and tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The added pressure from the diverse scheme the Raiders implemented even made Stanford Routt a legitimate defender in Nnamdi's absence.
But the defense wasn't the only one who showed diversity. Though the play of the offense didn't quite match up to the defense they did mix it up quite a bit.
For example the Raiders and JaMarcus Russell were able to spread the ball around very well, as JaMarcus targeted seven different receivers for completions. This included new off-season acquisition Gary Russell who had five receptions for 55 yards, including a late first down allowing the Raiders to milk the final two minutes of the game by taking knees.
Also the Raiders rushing attack featured four ball carriers for around 120 yards. Including a heavy dose of hard running by Justin Fargas who was able to succeed both inside and outside the tackles.
The Raiders balanced attack and success on the ground was able to set up the play-action which undoubtedly was a key to the Raiders success.
The Raiders also showed a lot of different looks on offense. They showed us two tight-end sets, with and without a FB. As well as multiple receiver sets where Russell was able to do well both behind center and in shot-gun. We even saw an empty backfield.
The Raiders also called plays to get the receivers, who have struggled thus far, more involved in the game. Including a reverse and a few bubble screens.
I would like to see the Raiders continue this and mix it up even more on offense. Maybe throw in the wildcat, an HB pass or even a flea-flicker.
The victory over the Eagles was definitely a big step for JaMarcus Russell and the Raiders. Lets hope they continue to move in the right direction.
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