By Steve Corkran
Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 2:17 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Coach Hue Jackson says things are changing around here these days. Look no further than the Raiders penchant for blitzing the past two games for overwhelming evidence to support that statement.
The Raiders blitzed 30 times their first four games this season, for an average of 7.5 per game. In the past two games, that number almost tripled, to 21.5 blitzes per game.
Why the change? Simple. Managing general partner Al Davis discouraged blitzing during his long reign. He was of the belief that a good defense should be able to generate ample pressure on the quarterback with four defensive linemen. The seven other defenders were there to stop the run and help in pass coverage.
It’s not a coincidence that the spike in blitzes coincided with the death of Davis. It’s not a sign of disrepect to Davis, just a difference in philosophy.
Davis made it known to his defensive coordinators over the years that he didn’t like frequent blitzes. If a defensive coordinator dialed up a blitz, it had better work. Or else. Or that defensive coordinator would hear about it, with no minced words.
Well, now the wraps are off, and Bresnahan is free to blitz as often as he sees fit.
The Raiders blitzed only 53 times in 2007, when Rob Ryan was the defensive coordinator. Fifty three times in 16 games. Watch Ryan’s Dallas Cowbows these days, or put on some tape of the Cleveland Browns the past two years and watch how often they blitzed.
Safety Matt Giordano came on several blitzes against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. On one play, he drilled quarterback Colt McCoy and sent the ball flying out of bounds.
“Yeah, it’s definitely helping our defense,” Giordano said. “We have good cover guys and a great front line that wreaks havoc already, and when you add a little more blitzing that puts even more pressure on the quarterback. We have to just continue to cover guys and get to the quarterback when we do bring extra pressure.”
Jackson rationalized the change by saying the Raiders defense was too predictable in the past. There was a need to give opposing offenses more to think about each game.
“We play a little zone every now and then but I want to mix it up,” Jackson said. “I don’t want to play the same thing all the time. It’s been pretty vanilla here in the past, and guys have kind of known how to attack us. Not that people beat us that way, but we need to get better and do things differently and give these players more opportunity to have success.”
You do the math on that one, folks.
For more evidence, we bring back coach Jackson.
“It’s something teams have a hard time with,” Jackson said. “It’s just something I truly believe in. You have to get after people. If I’m going to go down, I want to go down bombing everything. That’s just the way I feel about it. I don’t want to be sitting back watching and having people go get us. So we’ve done a good job, Chuck’s done a great job. Our personality here is changing a little bit that way, and deservedly so.”
Safety Mike Mitchell said it makes sense for the Raiders to blitz because he feels as if they have the most speed and talent in the league.
“Last week, you had Colt McCoy come up to us and say, ‘Man, I thought you guys were going to play more man,’ ” Mitchell said. “It’s good when the quarterback says that because we are known for so much man coverage. But when we can throw wrinkles with some of our fire zone and other things, it gives them different looks. They’re not going to know what to expect.”
GAME NOT SOLD OUT … YET
The Raiders petitioned the league for an extension so that they could use an extra day or so to see if they can sell the remaining tickets for Sunday’s game.
The league granted the extension, which runs through Friday. Recent history shows that when the Raiders get an extension, they wind up selling out the game, and it is televised locally.
The Raiders sold out their first three regular-season home games this season. Selling out the Chiefs game would give them four straight for the first time since the 2008 season.
Jackson did his part by pleading with fans to show their support for the Raiders by purchasing tickets and showing up to the Coliseum on Sunday.
STILL NO WORD ON STARTING QUARTERBACK
Jackson is having a ton of fun with all the speculation surrounding whether recently acquired quarterback Carson Palmer will start Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
He said his phone is ringing off the hook with people wanting to know if Palmer or Kyle Boller is his starter this week. He scoffs at numerous reports, from ESPN and others, that say Jackson already has tabbed Palmer as the starter.
“There’s no decision,” Jackson said. “Again, everybody’s wondering who is going to start. I am not going to make that decision, I don’t have to anytime soon. Sometime maybe tomorrow evening I will figure it out. Right now, I am not in a rush. There is no reason to rush.”
That isn’t stopping people from asking, again and again.
“I got more friends right now than I’ve ever had in my life,” Jackson said. “There’s more media here than ever, my phone will not quit buzzing. I got people saying, ‘I’m your friend from way back when,’ you know? Like I’m going to tell somebody something. I aint telling anybody anything. So, you guys can all stop now. I’m just telling you right now, I don’t have to. That’s the good part.”
Follow me on Twitter: @corkonthenfl