The Raiders lost a gut-wrencher to the Cardinals 24-23 on Sunday. Sebastian Janikowski missed three field goals in this contest of 41-, 58-, and 32-yards. The last of which would have been a game-winner.
SeaBass was off his game on Sunday, but the Raiders shouldn’t have needed to rely on him. The Cards should have been held to less points by the Raiders D.
I have noticed a disturbing trend over the preseason and throughout the first three games of the 2010 season: John Marshall seems to think the Red Zone means Defense Play Zone.
Larry Fitzgerald found himself caught in the gravitational pull of Planet Asomugha most of Sunday. However, that Planet all but disappeared inside the 20.
What happened? Where did Nnamdi go?
The answer—into assignment in zone coverage. Asomugha was assigned to the (offensive) left of the end zone, leaving a gap between the left and the center near the front. A short dink resulted in Fitzgerald being wide open for a touchdown.
This trend is evident in each game this season.
In the St. Louis Rams game, Tyvon Branch rocketed over late in an attempt to stop a pass into the open seam of zone coverage on two separate red zone scores. It’s as if the belief is to divide the red zone into five parts, rush four, and keep two LBs in run support. This leaves a lot of area uncovered, and we’ve been playing this way since preseason. I have seen offenses run three receivers into one man zone and throw to the player who is farthest away.
If the Raiders continue to play this red zone scheme, I begin to expect teams to score touchdowns from the red zone all season.
The Raiders have some of the best coverage backs in the league. I trust them to man up against any team and win a four-second battle.
However, a four-man rush and zone coverage is not a four-second battle. You have to man up and bring the heat. Make that quarterback throw against your coverage. We need to bring pressure. Asomugha on the No. 1 WR; Stanford Routt on the No. 2; bring in Howard to cover the TE; run support from McClain and Branch, with Kamerion Wimbley on pass rush.
That is how you play Raider Red Zone D.
Obviously, assignments can be switched for variety and offensive packages, but the idea is to PRESSURE THE QUARTERBACK and make him throw a ball your DBs can get to.
Notice Huff wasn’t mentioned. Huff is your wild card. If they have a two TE set, he covers a TE. He could be allowed to play the QB and follow his instinct to the ball, or add assistance where they have shown strength. If we lose a TD to man coverage, that’s Raider Ball.
To lose six points to zone is a lack of confidence in our talent. I, for one, believe in these guys. Aggression builds our intimidation stock and will have teams fearing us.
Bring the heat Raiders. Win or lose, opponents need to know they were in a fight.