||Skins (1-1) vs Raiders (2-0)
||FedEx Field, Hyattsville, MD
||Sunday, Sep 24th 8:30 PM ET
||H: 89, L: 66, Partly Cloudy
Offensive coordinator Todd Downing got his start in the NFL coaching gunslinger Matt Stafford en route to franchise passing records for yards (5,038), touchdowns (41), passer rating (97.2) and completion percentage (63.5). His next stop was Buffalo where he tried to turn around the careers of EJ Manuel and Kyle Orton with middling results that hit their respective ceilings. He now finds himself back in a QB room with a gunslinger in David Carr who he helped mold into the Raider’s first Pro Bowl quarterback since Rich Gannon in 2002; no small feat that earned him Pro Football Focus’ Quarterback Coach of the Year. He’s coupled that with a bruising run game that ranks top 5 in the league. Good hire? Good hire. Good enough to take down our revamped defense? We’ll see.
Run Defense vs Oakland
Don’t be fooled by the highlight packages that would have you believe this offense’s bread is buttered by an aerial attack; yes they will throw it, but Oakland is a team that currently puts out a top 5 rushing attack averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 144 yards per game. It’s a rushing attack that statistically mirrors ours but with a more unorthodox approach. Their goto formation is the Bunch (above) and it can create advantages in the run game:
- Tight splits from TE and WR make for a short edge, which lets runs hit outside quickly
- Defenses will overload to the Bunch side, leaving defenders spread out to the weak side
- Receivers in the bunch have favorable blocking angles
Our edge guys might see a little frippery as WR Cordelle Patterson has lined up in the backfield on toss plays, but outside of that it’s Marshawn Lynch and inside zone. Oakland’s inside runs out of Bunch places defenses into well defined zone blocks before the snap. We could combat that with Zach Brown who thrives at confusing blockers in the open field, but next to him will be either an injured Foster or slow reacting Will Compton, either of which could be catching blocks at the second level.
The Raiders do not have a single Guard or Tackle weighing below 328 pounds. In between that is an agile 300 pound Center who might not dominate at the line, but can get after it in open space. His run blocking is the inverse of the guys flanking him on either side. The 330 pound behemoths can push the line at the first level, but they struggle in the open field against athletic linebackers: Zach Brown could have a day.
Versus our Nickel Front: We line up over the guards to take away outside runs and Kerrigan and Smith are more than capable at setting the edge against any TE and Tackle group; combine that with the Raiders penchant for pounding Marshawn Lynch up the middle and it looks like Inside Zone will be the scheme of choice.
Versus our 3-4: Against heavier formations involving multiple tight ends, our 3-4 personnel would place Ryan Anderson and Junior Galette as the edge defenders and could put us on shaky ground. Anderson has shown he struggles to hold the edge, any signs of that tonight would lead to Preston Smith taking extra snaps. On the interior, 5 tech Stacy McGee whose main asset seems to be his weight, will be tasked with lining up across from guys just as big (ex: Donald Penn 6-4 340.) If they run outside zone away from McGee, cutback lanes could open up. If they try to hit us with runs outside, this is the formation to try it against.
Between Anderson and McGee, Oakland could be looking at 2 potential mismatches with our 3-4 that tips in their favor. I bet one dollar we see the Raiders come out in multiple TE formations more than they normally do.
Key Match Ups: Ziggy Hood and Stacy McGee vs STAYING AT THE LINE and INSIDE BACKERS vs C Rodney Hudson. McGee and Hood getting dominated would cause the dominoes to fall and we could be in for a long night with methodical runs setting up Cooper and Crabtree downfield. Tomsula has improved technique inside but this will be the (literally) strongest test they face.
As of this writing Mason Foster is ‘questionable’ to start and has been limited in practice all week. His backup, Will Compton, might be a liability. Zach Brown has the speed and ability to mess with blocking schemes and that could pave the way to double digit tackles; hopefully close enough to the line of scrimmage so as to not have the chains reset.
Pass Defense vs Oakland
Oakland is currently 5th in Yards Per Attempt (8.2) in no small part thanks to their run game. Out of that same Bunch formation they will hit play action with one of the 3 receivers running a Y-Cross behind the linebackers. It’s usually open.
Another reason for that lofty YPA is David Carr not flinching at sideline throws. He will test outside coverage with hitches against Cover 3 corners (think Cousins to DeSean last year) and back-shoulders against man-to-man, his accuracy is on point, drops from Amari Cooper have been the biggest roadblock. I’m not sure if Carr’s DGAF meter is set to ‘attack Josh Norman’ but I would expect Breeland to see plenty of action come his way.
They also like to run 3×2 empty formations (above.) To the 2-man side they run man-beater routes while to the 3-man side they like to run zone beaters (ex: corner routes vs Cover 2.) The whole field is an option as Carr utilizes the middle of the field if you zone it off, and will hit outside if you play man defense.
Good news is their 330+ pound tackles are susceptible to speed rushes and twists. Allen has shown to be a handful when twisting inside and Kerrigan still keeps a speed rush rip move in his arsenal. The front 4 needs to get after it because when we blitz our zone drops leave us vulnerable in coverage.
Key Match Up: David Carr vs FIND YOUR ZONE. Goff bailed us out last week, we should not expect Carr to play as nice. Main culprits in zone busts come from Foster, Brown and safety play. The less blitzing we do, the less confused they seem to be.
3 Meaningless Predictions
- An uncovered zone cedes 6 points in the first quarter.
- Preston Smith gets reinserted into the 3-4. Galette gets more snaps.
- Jonathan Allen is the set up man in twists that get to Carr; leads to a turnover.