Saturday, October 21, 2006

Dogs of War

Going into the 2006 season, one of my biggest concerns was the Raiders defense. The Raiders starting unit is comprised primarily of young, inexperienced players. 9 of the 11 starters have 3 or less years of experience. The only veterans with more than 3 years of experience are Warren Sapp and Derrick Burgess.

Player

PositionExperience
Warren SappDT11
Derrick BurgessDE5
Tyler BraytonDE3
Nnamdi AsomughaCB3
Sam WilliamsOLB3
Tommy KellyDT2
Stuart SchweigertFS2
Kirk MorrisonMLB1
Fabian WashingtonCB1
Michael HuffSSR
Thomas HowardOLBR

In a season with very few bright spots, I have been very proud of our Defensive unit's performance. I like the character of this unit which plays hard the entire game and continues to fight regardless of the score or circumstances. Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan has done an excellent job teaching and inspiring this group. It has been quite remarkable how this unit has gelled in such a short period of time.

The only real knock I have on Ryan is that his unit has become a "bend don't break" type of defense. Ryan needs to unshackle these Dogs of War. Below are some stats that shows a lack of aggression and killer instinct which I will explain later:

Defensive Category

Oak (Rank)NFL Leader
Scoring25.2 / (27)7.4 / Denver
Yards per Game282.8 / (8)218.4 / San Diego
Rushing yards per game149.0/ (30)67.0 / Dallas
Passing yards per game133.8 / (1)133.8 / Oakland
Turnovers Created5 / (32)16 / St. Louis
Sacks6 / (32)23 / Philadelphia
3rd Down Conversion

43.7% (26)

23.2% / Chicago

- The Sacks and Turnovers Created statistics go hand in hand and shows a true lack of aggression, blitzing, taking chances, and dictating tempo. The Raiders are last in both of these categories.

- The 3rd Down Conversion rate statistic demonstrates that the team is struggling to make a play to get off the field. Is there any logical reason that Ryan doesn't blitz more on 3rd down or 2nd and long situations? What I'm really hoping is that come Sunday, Ryan says "Screw it. We are 0-5. I'm going to turn my Dogs of War loose! Hey Huff, Howard. Get ready to light up the QB because I'm calling your numbers on a bunch of wild ass blitzs. Go get Leinart and put him on his back, men!"

- The Rushing Defense statistic shows that other teams are running it right down our throat. This can be partly attibuted to teams playing with the lead against us. Is it just me or does it seem that the Raiders LBs need to start the play a step or 2 towards the line? Why isn't Ryan putting Huff inside the box more often?

Sunday is as good a day as any to cut the Dogs of War loose.

"The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on. " - Ulysses S. Grant

11 Comments:

Blogger x said...

Ryan must have read your post before the game.

Much more aggressive defense today, which paid dividends. Plus, they were great on third downs, only allowing Arizona 1 conversion out of 11.

We still must temper our enthusiasm, as this was the Cardinals after all (following a collapse on MNF, a short work week, one of the worst O-lines in the league, star WR out, a new O-coordinator, and a rookie QB...and did I mention it was versus the Arizona Cardinals?).

6:34 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

X - Ryan definitely cranked up the Defensive pressure today!

The Tyrone Poole corner blitz was a beautifully designed and executed play. He blitzed behind Burgess to Leinart's blind spot.

The defense made plays all day.
3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 safety, and as you mentioned, getting off the field on 3rd down (Cards 1-11 on 3rd downs for a 9% coversion rate).

Normally I would take your advise to temper our enthusiasm but when you haven't tasted victory since November of 2005, I will glady take it.

6:55 PM  
Blogger frkyraider said...

all i can say is....aaaahhhhhh!!! the relief of the broken goose egg is imense.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Bucky O'Grog said...

Beating the Cardinals is better than losing to the Cardinals, but as my friend The Wolf would say, "let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet."

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

Walter, despite some ill-advised passes, continues to develop well. He is very much in the Plunkett mold -- immobile, strong arm, good leader. If he had an offensive line that could stay put until the snap, we'd see less of the mistakes (he pressures himself to make up for his first and twenty situations) and more of the good decisions. And it wouldn't hurt if the team captain held on to his catches better, either.

All in all, a good game that they should have won and did.

8:27 PM  
Blogger PantyRaider said...

Cast a Vote for CoachShell @ Raiders.com as Coach-o-da-Week!! Our coach earned it and now leads Houston's Kubiak 48% to 36%, so please cast a Vote!!

PantyRaider---Suportin!!!

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll just take the win baby. Our Dfense was strong again, and despite the continued penalties and errors (ubiquitous sloppy play), our Oline looked better (not good, but better), and I think I even saw moss-ie break a sweat out there... of course it was a hot day.
I'd like to ask CJ, whatya say now about walsh? hack or back !?
r8der 'the ted' Mike

5:08 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Welcome back to the mainland, Big Mike.

To answer your question, Walsh called a much better game vs. the Redbirds. In particular, he had a better mix of 1st down calls. He was less predictable as evidenced by the 1st 20 1st down calls (13 run, 7 pass). I also liked the fact that there were some short pass plays to Whitted, Anderson, Curry, and Moss in 5 of the 7 1st down pass plays.

Although I was very disappointed with Walsh's playcalling in the Broncos game, I have to give credit where credit is due. As Walter gains more experience and confidence in calling audibles, the Raiders offense should see continued improvement.

Hack or back? The jury is still out. Let's hope that Walsh is able to adapt to each new opponent and keep the D off balance.

6:33 PM  
Blogger x said...

Totally agree. It was like the game was called by a different O-coordinator on Sunday. He even tried a screen or two....now if we can only teach our O-linemen to get out of the way of the pass, that would be brilliant.

Sorry if I sounded negative because I am happy as hell we finally got a W. I'm just a glass-half-empty sort of guy. And I expect excellence from this organization as a long time fan.

What really irks me is the damn media. They really can't get enough of piling on the Raiders. First, this is the worst NFL team ever and we're going 0-16. Now, we were lucky to beat the worst team and we shouldn't be excited to have done it....in other words, "big whoop".

There's a chick on ESPN's Page 2 that wrote an article saying this and more...and don't tell me she's just trying to be witty.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Stick'em said...

While the defense has me feeling much more confident than the past few years (now I don't just wait for the missed tackle or bad angle to lead to a big score), this is still an average defense.

Yes, we are ranked #1 vs. the pass... but also #30 against the run.

Methinks the #1 pass "D" ranking has more to do with the types of teams we have faced - San Diego, Baltimore, Denver, etc. - being running teams with stout defenses, coupled with them getting leads and running out the clock, than any miracles the Raiders might be performing in the "D" backfield.

We have experienced growth in the right direction and things are getting better on "D". Happy happy, joy joy.

That said, the bottom line is that despite the win and despite the improvement, being last in the NFL in sacks allowed and last in the NFL in sacks accomplished is a one way ticket straight to Hades in a primer grey '73 Pinto with a cracked windshield and one headlight.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Stick'em:

I would agree that the D has plenty of room for improvement and that the pass D ranking might be a bit distorted.

However, you have got to tip your hat for the job the secondary did on WR Boldin. Boldin, the leader in the league in receptions, had 12 catches for 136 yards and 1 TD against arguably the best D (Bears).

Against the Raiders, Boldin didn't catch his 1st pass until the 3rd quarter and ended up with 4 catches for 59 yards and 0 tds.

The ability of the front 4 to create pressure on the QB leads to interceptions. The ability of the secondary to cover creates sack opportunities. In the game vs. the Cards the Raiders had 3 sacks, numerous pressures, and 2 ints.

BTW, our rush D is currently #26 at 132.5 yards per game.

9:47 PM  

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