How much will Bresnahan blitz?

Since there are no actual players to coach, one imagines Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan poring over game film, devising schemes and looking for the best way to stop the run and bring pressure.

Departed defensive coordinator John Marshall, like most Raiders defensive coordinators over the years, was taken to task by a fan base that felt he too often played it safe. Al Davis has long favored a natural pass rush, mostly from a 4-3 alignment although the Raiders have flourished in a 3-4 in some of their glory years. He’s not against blitzing _ Davis is fine with it as long as it works _ but any coach who dials up a blitz that results in a big offensive play will hear about it.

Anyone hoping to see Bresnahan dial up a series of exotic blitzes is going to be disappointed. Marshall, in terms of pressure, was a blitzing maniac when compared to Raiders teams dating back nearly 30 years.

Last season, the Raiders had 47 sacks, the most since the 1990 Raiders had 48. That team had exactly one sack from a defensive back _ cornerback Terry McDaniel.

While the Raiders are justifiably proud of the fact that five down linemen had five or more sacks (team leader Kamerion Wimbley’s nine sacks came with his hand down as a nickel rusher at end), they tied for second in the league in sacks along with Green Bay and San Diego (one behind Pittsburgh) in large part due to the eight sacks registered by starting safeties Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch, who had four each.

Getting one defensive back to four sacks is remarkable in that doing back to 1982, when profootballreference.com begins recording individual sack numbers, only one time has a Raider defnsive back ever had more than four. Strong safety Stacey Toran had six sacks in 1986 when the Raiders had 63.

Only one time since then has a defensive back had three sacks, when Albert Lewis had three in 1996. The 2004 Raiders, coached by Bresnahan, had 4.5 sacks from defensive backs, led by Charles Woodson’s 2.5 (with one each by Nnamdi Asomugha and Jarrod Cooper).

Then again, only one time in the last 29 years have the Raiders failed to record a single sack by the secondary. It was 2002, the Raiders had 43 sacks and won the AFC title, and Bresnahan was the defensive coordinator.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer