Will SD blitz ending change Raiders’ philosophy?

Michael Huff earned the most national recognition he’s had since being one of the most decorated defensive backs in college football because of a late-game sequence when he helped blitz quarterback Philip Rivers into submission.

It wasn’t just that Huff’s sack caused the fumble that Tyvon Branch (with help from Chris Johnson) ran back 64 yards for the game-clinching touchdown. Huff had come hard on previous plays as the Raiders disregarded convention and sent both safeties in attempt to force Rivers into the mistake that he eventually made.

“I was tired,” the reigning AFC defensive player of the week said Friday. “I blitzed like five times in a row. I wasn’t used to it. I need to go out there and run a little bit more.”

Given that his usual role as a single deep free safety calls for Huff to be the last and most visable line of defense, Huff says the constant blitzing “definitely” came as a surprise.

“(To blitz) that many times in a row, especially when we hadn’t blitzed much and to call it four or give times in a row was different,” Huff said.

So here come the San Francisco 49ers and Alex Smith, a quarterback, who in the words of defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, “has had a little trouble throwing it to the other team this year” with nine interceptions, the most in the NFL. Surely he can be forced to throw it before he wants, adding to his pick total.

Huff conceded the San Diego finish gives defenders more ammunition in lobbying for more blitzing with defensive coordinator John Marshall, but didn’t sound as if he expected a big change in philosophy.

“When you put it on film and it works, it’s easy to go up there and show him we can do it more,” Huff said. “But we know we’ve got a great front four and they can get to the passer, so we don’t have to blitz every time. But that’s good when kind of sprinkle it in every now and then.”

When I said to Tom Cable Monday that people would look at the last five plays and wonder why the Raiders don’t blitz more often, his answer was interesting.

“We talk about that a lot, we really do,” Cable said. “Some of it is kind of a theory or belief in the system and what has to go on and what must be done and those kinds of things. Some of it is when it’s time to do it. You have to do what you believe is right. John did at the end and it was exactly right.”

The Raiders’ theory defensively has always been, “our players are better than yours and we will win more individual battles.” As Huff suggested, the best case scenario is is probably that the 49ers will sprinkle in a few more blitzes because it’s not in the DNA as formulated by Al Davis to be a team that relies heavily on the blitz.

The 49ers first responsibility will be to keep running back Frank Gore under control, and they realize that if you commit too many people in the box to create pressure and Gore slips through, he’s adept at taking it the distance. Gore’s presence can make the 49ers a tricky team to blitz.

And if Gore gets untracked and gets steady yards, like the Houston Texans did two weeks ago, the whole blitzing issue is moot because Smith will have a steady diet of plays with optimum down and distance instead of the second-and-long and third-and-long plays that feed a blitz.

Chances are Huff will be back in his familiar role, seeing things from afar, realizing that if he makes a mistake it not only means six points, but is out there for all too see on the evening highlights. The way the Raiders deploy their safeties, Huff’s job is one of the toughest in the NFL, and he’s had as many bad days as good ones.

“You know I’ve got to make the tackle, (and) if I don’t make it, he’s going 70 or going 80,” Huff said. “I’ve got to get him on the ground. I know it’s my responsibility because it’s my role on the defense.”

The Chargers win was unusual in that Huff, Branch and second-year man Mike Mitchell all had good games. Safety play was spotty at best through the first four games. The difference was that the cornerbacks, Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson, and yes, Nnamdi Asomugha, were either beaten or out of position on many of Rivers’ throws.

“We felt as a staff that our safeties played real well,” Cable said. “The corners need to be a little more aggressive and firmer, tighter in our coverage.”

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Roch R

    got rocked

  • Born with a Patch

    Hope Campbell can come out with the poise he had in the preseason. what happened to him? looked great when it was a meaningless game. led the team down the field every first series. then along came the regular season. I dont blame him for living in fear behind that line but he’s shown flashes of what he’s capable of doing behind that very same line…

  • Born with a Patch

    I can name 100 other QB’s i’d rather have out there but we have him for the time being so he has my support… As does the rest of the team

  • Just Fire Baby

    When I think of this game it gives me the same sickening feeling I had while watching Seabass line up for a chip shot at Univeristy of Phoenix stadium.

    Just seemed to easy. Said those immortal words to my wife about 10 seconds before the kick.

    0-5 team, worse state of affairs than us, easiest road game so far this year and maybe all year when considering the crowd noise and travel.

    Just seems too easy.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Roch R,

    If Tommy Kelly played to his contract, we wouldnt’ even be talking about safety play in the run game….Kelly is just another guy out there….he’s not horrible…but he’s not a difference maker…he’s just a guy that you would like coming off the bench.

    Hopefully John Henderson heals up.

  • Roch R

    “100 other QB’s” …????? Seriously!?! A hundred! JCampbell is going to be better than we think, he just needs a few seconds in the pocket, and needs to feel comfortable with his wide outs to go down field when he sees it.

    A hundred, that cracks me up.

  • Born with a Patch

    Wouldn’t it be awesone for the offense to come out with a 2 tackle set, both bush and DMAC in the backfield and instead of handing off the rock, they go deep to DHB…. that’ll be the day pigs fly or hell even the day the chargers win the superbowl… nevermind, pigs will fly before the chokers win it all… ha ha ha ha

  • Roch R

    I hear ya’ SnB, but I bought in to Kelly this year, with the slim down look, and that goalline stand in the pre-season against Chicago… and I know I know, it was just the preseason, but man I have high hopes for that guy.

  • Dub77

    Watch at 9:00 – It is what it is….


  • Born with a Patch

    56.Roch R Says:
    October 16th, 2010 at 3:01 pm
    “100 other QB’s” …????? Seriously!?! A hundred! JCampbell is going to be better than we think, he just needs a few seconds in the pocket, and needs to feel comfortable with his wide outs to go down field when he sees it.

    A hundred, that cracks me up.

    A bit of an exaggeration but i’m sure campbell isn’t your first choice either… In not here to clown on the dude, as i said, he has my support

  • SnB offense defense specialteams


    Campbell looked good last week. Any time you have two long drives in a big game…the QB has done his job.

    Truth is that when you cannot develop your own QB, you have to rely on scrap heap players…teams don’t get rid of good qbs. That’s how Campbell and Gradkowski have ENDED UP on this roster.

    So if you are expecting “Jim Plunkett” or “Rich Gannon” from these two, you will be bitterly disappointed.

    Hopefully these two QBs can give the team steady play and not turn the ball over.

    It is what it is

  • Born with a Patch

    agreed. I’m not expecting a pro bowl out of either of them this season, but campbell has shown what he is capable of. i just want more consistency. with our run game, he can play well enough to keep the starting job and be successful

  • Kirk

    Blitzing creates turnovers.

    Turnovers win games.

  • Born with a Patch

    Kirk Says:
    October 16th, 2010 at 3:24 pm
    Blitzing creates turnovers.

    If only it were that easy. I think we need to blitz often but we have a knack for getting burned by big plays. and if you live by the sword, then by the sword shall you die. I’d be a bigger advocate for the blitz if our D was sound tackling in space

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Speaking of sacks…they got to get Kameron Wimbley involved this week

  • Born with a Patch

    And shaughnessy

  • Raiderbuck

    Just win baby,

    I’d rather be right than consistent,

    It ain’t pretty, but it’s a win,

    Need I say more? Play your game anyway you want to – if you win Al will leave you alone.

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  • sirblitzalot

    I watched the Silver and Black show and TC sounds like they really want this win. I hope they want it more than they did the Houston game. The niners may ride the wake of the the Giant win. I am just hope that we get a fair officiating crew.

  • souldogdave

    Lots of crybaby sniveling here.We just beat the Chargers,and we will win this one.Check out bangcartoon.com for the Singletary spoof.Hilarious.

  • maloso

    we need a big dt like haloti ngata and more blitz palys

  • raidrum

    Blitz or no blitz when we do good on d we are playing aggressive. whenever we play zone WE GET KILLED!!!!!

  • JLofty

    Raiders 17-13

  • fat kidd

    Bewaking news adam schefter.randy hanson,rich gannon group to purchase the Oakland Raiders according to schefter.

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