Skins DEFENSE vs the Raiders


We broke out the 3-4 for just four plays, otherwise it was Nickel the whole way, even when they lined up with no backs and 5 receivers:

That is Zach Brown lined up across from 2 WRs.  Oakland ran a route combination that got Amari Cooper one on one with Brown and open for the first–which he dropped.  Complaints from me in this game were few, but this would be one.  Perhaps a Dime defense would suffice in the future?

Substitution notes:  Mason Foster was replaced by two guys, in the 3-4 it was Compton and in the Nickel it was Spaight.  Defensive line snaps were fluid with Allen, McClain and Ioannidis getting the lion share inside.  Kerrigan and Smith took the most snaps at DE.

On the whole, the defense got off easy for the 2nd straight week with just over 50 snaps for the game.

The first 11 and 1/2 drives are charted (link at the bottom) with the last drive and a half left off because the Raiders had given up at that point.

The Show

Defensive Line
Player + Total
Allen 6 1.5 4.5
Kerrigan 9.5 2.5 7
Smith 10 0 10(!)
Ioannidis 3.5 1 2.5
McGee 0 1 -1
McClain 0 0.5 -0.5
Hood 0 2 -2
Total     20.5

Preston Smith had himself his best game of the season.  On a 3rd and 2 the Raiders dialed up a ‘Duo’ run.  Basically there is a linebacker they leave unblocked, in this case Spaight (circled.)  The running back will run to the hole the linebacker doesn’t.  Spaight chose the inside gap, so Lynch bounced it outside, right into Smith, who shed his blocker like a rag doll:

They didn’t (couldn’t) go back to that play since they realized a TE wouldn’t be enough to contain Smith.

[After the jump:  Grades for Linebackers and DBs, video breakdowns, Predictions]

On an outside zone play versus our 3-4, they tried to attack McGee (circled) on the cutback:

The gap was there:  They removed McGee from the line and the Guard was able to knock Hood down to widen the hole.  Lynch had a crease, but Kerrigan chased down the play from behind.

That’s 2 schemes they brought (duo and outside zone from their heavy set) they had to trash before starting the 2nd half.

In an effort to control our ends at the line, they shifted their double team from McGee to Kerrigan.  They were able to hold off McGee with just a single blocker (this is the same McGee that has a 5 year $25 million dollar deal; his contract value is slotted right in between DeForest Buckner–whose coming off a 73 tackle, 6 sack rookie season–and Chris Baker who was the star of this defensive line a year ago) while they zone combo’d Kerrigan and Hood up to Spaight and Brown.  They executed their first level blocks well, it’s the linebackers they couldn’t account for:

Both Spaight and Brown dodged the lineman coming off their doubles and snuck into the backfield for the stop.  Every time Oakland would adjust, we responded by being faster and smarter.  Their line was big but unable to adjust on the fly.  It looked like a 1990s Big 10 offensive line vs a modern defense out there.

Player + Total
Brown 3.5 3.5 0
Anderson 1 0 1
Spaight 5.5 4.5 1 (-4 from missed tackles)
Galette 1 0 1
Compton 1 0 1 (used in 3-4, sat out on Nickel)
Total     4


Last year, we lost on a record number of 3rd and longs because linebackers would not drop deep enough in their zone coverage.  Sunday night, this is how we looked before the snap:

That’s 3rd and 11 and Spaight is lined up exactly 11 yards off the line.  Every route the TE ran ended up right next to where Spaight already was; we effectively cancelled him out before the ball was even snapped.  The inability to make this adjustment last year is Exhibit A as to why Coach Barry is gone.

Spaight would have finished with the highest grade if it weren’t for missed tackles.  It looks like just a technique issue with his footwork, but if it doesn’t get fixed I’m assuming we’re in the market for an inside linebacker sooner rather than later.

Defensive Backs
Player + Total
Nicholson 5 0 5: Won the SS job
Fuller 3 1.5 1.5
DJ 2 0 2
Breeland 2 2 0: Positive in coverage, minus in run support
Everett 2 0 2
Total     10.5
This Week      
Coverage 15 6 9
Pressure 6.5 5 1.5
Week 2      
Coverage 12 20 -8
Pressure 8 3 5
Week 1      
Coverage 13 24 -11
Pressure 8 8 0
[Norman's grade was absorbed by the 'coverage' metric.  On most plays--except the big ones--where we cover well/poor I don't go through and award points to every DB, instead it's given as a team grade.  It's not perfect, but the general idea of how we performed should still show.]

Over the first 2 weeks it looked like the SS job would be awarded to whoever made the fewest mistakes, but Sunday night Monte Nicholson went out and won the job.  His range allowed him to get from the middle of the field to the outside routes as the ball was thrown:

He was in position for that interception even after he got sucked in by the Post-Corner route from the slot WR.  Dude’s got range.

Breeland was good to great in coverage: his minuses came on one PI call and and an over pursuit versus the run.

They tried one outside screen on us: they knew to throw it to the side Fuller wasn’t on, but Breeland and Brown blew it up anyway.  That’s a part of the playbook teams down the road can leave at home.

Last Week’s Predictions:

  • That back 7 needs to figure out how to cover zones because David Carr is not Jared Goff.  Solution #1:  Stop blitzing the safeties and inside backers.
    • Yes and no.  Yes, less blitzing lead to better coverage.  But David [ed: or Derek.  Whichever you prefer] Carr might be as “good” as Goff.  On one throw he had 2 back-shoulder options: one was 6’5 Jared Cook who was covered by a linebacker, the other a 6’2 WR covered by our 2017 shut down corner Kendall Fuller.  Carr picked the option you're not supposed to pick, and he got picked.
  • Oakland is averaging 144 yards rushing per game, good for top 5 in the league.  If Foster can’t go and Compton is in the game, look for them to put us in our Nickel front in an attempt to gash us with Power runs going his way.
    • No:  Manusky subverted this by subbing Foster with Spaight in our Nickel front.
  • Someone busts a coverage early leading to either a should’ve-been big play or a big play.  It gets corrected.
    • Nope.  Not even close.
  • McGee is the guy they target when they go into heavy formations.
    • Yes.  That’s exactly what they did and Kerrigan bailed us out.  We scored quickly and forced Oakland to go to a pass happy personnel before they could make adjustments.
  • Everett makes the fewest mistakes.  Wins the Strong safety job by game’s end.
    • Glad to be wrong on this one, congrats Monte Nicholson.
  • Fuller gets a TFL on an outside screen, Kerrigan and Allen each get a sack.
    • Prediction 1: The brain trust in Oakland figured out not to throw those at Fuller.  They went after Breeland and Brown instead, got the same result.  Prediction 2: Errybody got a sack
  • Preston Smith gets reinserted into the 3-4.  Galette gets more snaps.
    • Kinda.  And yes.

What Does It Mean For The Future?

  • Crap, we have to play Kansas City
  • McGee is the odd man out in the interior DLine rotation.  Allen and McClain should start biting into his share of snaps.
  • It looks like the zone coverage gaffes are taken care of.
  • Between Breeland, Fuller and Norman teams are going to have to start attacking our Safties and Backers if they want any success.  Look for KC to try and get us with the wheel route and delayed halfback releases into the flat.
  • According to the KC Star, the Chiefs multiple TE set usage has gone down this year from 74% to 66% of snaps.  Unless we jump out to another 21-0 lead, I’m thinking the Chiefs will go with multiple TE sets closer to that 74% number, in an effort to force our less favorable personnel onto the field.  Our 3-4 gets 40 snaps next week, it’ll be a slobberknocker.


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