Raiders Follow The Blueprint
Raiders 24 - Chargers 17
Thursday night's game was a tough challenge for the Raiders. It was a character driven and character defining game in many ways. The key to a successful night was the Raiders dominating both sides of the line of scrimmage and staying true to their formula for success.
I appreciate and admire the 2011 team's resiliency. There have been a number of games this season where the team's character and commitment has been tested. After a heart crushing 2nd half collapse to the Bills, the team responded with a convincing bounce back victory vs. the Jets. After the loss to the Patsies and loss of owner Al Davis, the Raiders had an inspiring and emotional win at Houston. Going into the game there was a litany of built in excuses (short week, injury filled roster, new players getting up to speed) that ultimately fell on deaf ears as the Raiders physically dominated the Chargers.
* Establish the run early and often.
When the Raiders utilize the rushing attack as a hammer, it wears down the opponent and sets up big plays in the passing game. When the opponent commits 8 defenders in the box to contain the Raiders rushing attack, play action pass is more effective and there are more favorable 1 on 1 match-ups for the receivers. An opportunistic, big play passing attack to score points and stretch the field is built on the shoulders of the running game.
More Bush: Michael Bush had a Herculean performance against the Chargers rushing the ball 30 times for 157 yards for a 5.2 average plus 1 TD. He also had 3 receptions for 85 yards. With Bush as the primary RB the past 3 games, he has racked up a total of 352 yards on 66 carries for a robust 5.4 average. Bush's elusiveness and speed (for a 250 lbs. RB), his ability to read blocks, make decisive cuts, and shed initial contact are his key attributes. He is also a sure handed pass catcher who is especially effective on delayed screen plays. The one area that he needs to improve upon is his pass blocking skills. His whiff on a pass block led to Palmer's 1 INT.
Bush's productivity in the 1st quarter (78 yards rushing) was the platform for QB Carson Palmer to have an efficient (12-20, 299 yards, 2 TDs) night in the passing attack. Palmer's handle and command of the Raiders offense has grown leaps and bounds in 2 short weeks. Palmer looked very comfortable in the pocket and was precise with his passes. The connection and trust between Palmer and Denarius Moore has also gained traction very quickly. Moore, drafted in the 5th round, had an electric night with 5 receptions for 123 yards and 2 TDs.
* An effective 4 man defensive pass rush that creates consistent QB pressure while using the blitz at key junctures in the game to ratchet up the pressure and become less static or predictable.
The Raiders defensive front 4 absolutely annihilated the Chargers OLine and caused Rivers discomfort, 6 sacks, 10 pressures, and 6 hits. Kamerion Wimbley had a monster game with 4 sacks and was such a disruptive force that the Chargers were forced into double-teaming him for most of the night. Safety blitzes from Branch, Mitchell, and Giordano were used judiciously and effectively to mix things up and keep Rivers on guard.
* Containing the run and minimizing the big chunk yardage on the ground.
Defending the run has been a weakness of the Raiders for too many years to count. There is a real "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde" quality to this year's run defense. In Oakland's 5 wins this year, the defense allowed an average of 69.6 yards. In Oakland's 4 losses, the number swells up to 209.3 yards per game.
Run to win, pass to score, the QB must go down hard, and stop the run at all costs ... this is the core essence of the Raiders formula for success. The key for the Raiders to go to the next stage of progress and win the AFC West is centered on establishing more consistent team performances from week to week.
Up Next: 11/20 at Minnesota with the arduous task of slowing down RB Adrian Peterson.