To Blitz Is Elementary, Rob
Before anyone gets too close to the edge, take a deep breath. As Nnamdi Asomugha put it "the D laid an egg" against Denver. The defensive unit was flat, passive, and out of position which is unacceptable on all 3 counts.
If you are going to pin this humiliating loss to Denver on any one person, the bulk of it falls on the shoulders of Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan.
Is the defensive ineptitude fixable? Absolutely. Our starting 11 are more than capable of playing MUCH better football IF, and this is a BIG IF, Ryan utilizes his personnel correctly AND puts a MUCH bigger emphasis on QB pressure.
In a typical game, the opponent runs approximately 60 offensive plays. Of those 60 plays, there are about a dozen plays throughout the game where a blitz is an OBVIOUS remedy to create QB pressure.
Without QB pressure, there is ZERO chance for success.
Let's be clear about a blitz. It is simply having 5 pass rushers instead of 4. It is simply using 1 player from the back 7.
Of our back 7, ALL of these players are more than capable of blitzing the QB. All of these players at some time in their career have blitzed the QB. It isn't rocket science. Use Howards speed off the edge. Move FS Huff into coverage responsibilities when sending Hall or Asomugha towards the QB. Have the DTs twist and send Morrison on a delayed blitz up the middle. Stick Wilson in the box and have him fire towards the QB. There are countless variations of different blitz packages that can be set in motion depending on down, distance, and personnel. If Howard is successful getting to the QB, keep doing it until the offense proves it can adjust/stop it.
Mixing and matching the secondary in coverage responsibilities would free up 1 rusher. Huff, Wilson, Asomugha, and Hall can cover AND be used to blitz. The LBs can be used at different junctures in the game to find a path to the QB. The QB needs to be put in a position where he is unsure who is going to blitz, from what angle, or what part of the field. Making the QB second guess his decisions and force him to get rid of the ball quickly are basic defensive tenants.
Keep in mind, the offense typically has 4 available "receivers" (2 WRs, TE, RB). If you blitz one player in the back 7, you still have 6 defenders covering 4 receivers.
How many times did Ryan blitz vs. Denver? Once? It is very discouraging and back breaking when an opponent coverts a high percentage of 3rd and longs (6+ yards or more). Give any capable QB time and he will eat our D for lunch.
The biggest problem I see is that Ryan doesn't bother to utilize his D in an aggressive fashion. As I said last year, Ryan needs to "cut his dogs of war loose". Instead, he totally lets the offense dictate the tempo and terms of the game. It is a Charmin soft D playing not to lose instead of playing to cause havoc and win.
I've heard many fans bellyache about Kiffin not managing the game, doing a poor job of playcalling, having his team ill prepared against Denver. Rubbish. The D's inability to stop Denver throughout the game impacted and changed the whole game plan and flow of the game.
If Kiffin had the authority over the D or Ryan grew a pair of balls, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
The only saving grace I can see from my vantage point is that the Raiders were so humiliated that hopefully a light bulb went off in Ryan's mind: "Yeah, I'm going to be fired at the end of the year if our D keeps stinkin' up the joint. I might as well go down swinging with my D playing a VERY aggressive brand of football."
No blitz packages + soft coverage = recipe for more ugly losses. Hall & Asomugha in press coverage, Wilson in the box, and 1 blitzer in obvious passing downs and we will be dictating the outcome.
This Sunday vs. KC, the defensive game plan should be (1) stop the run at all costs with 8 in the box (2) blitz on obvious passing downs/3rd and longs. Do those 2 things effectively and it allows the offense more possessions, better field position, and a chance to establish the run instead of playing from behind a 2+ score deficit.