The Oakland Raiders will kick off their 2013-2014 season on the road this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. One of Oakland’s biggest challenges of the game will be stopping second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
Luck led the Colts to the postseason last year after throwing for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns while also rushing for 255 yards and five touchdowns. He definitely made his presence felt in just his first year in the NFL and big things are expected from him in his sophomore campaign. That said, how can the Raiders contain Luck in their first game of the season?
Luck is one talented player. He is one of the best quarterbacks at completing passes when blitzed, and he is also capable of making plays with his feet and taking it the distance. He has developed an explosive connection with his go-to receiver Reggie Wayne and you can be sure that Luck will be looking his way when his team needs a big play.
The Raiders are not the best pass rushing team in the league, but they will be boasting a much improved defensive secondary this season. Guys like Charles Woodson, D.J. Hayden, Tracy Porter, and Mike Jenkins are fully capable of playing great coverage down the field and locking in on their opponents. One tactic the Raiders can try in Week 1 is to skip the pass rush and play more men in coverage. If their secondary can hold their ground and lock down the opposing wide receivers, Luck will be forced into throwing into a tight window, throwing the ball away, or scrambling out of the pocket to make a play with his feet.
Luck is fully capable of rushing the ball when plays break down, but that is a much better scenario for the Raiders’ defense than having the young quarterback air out a pass to one of his receivers for a touchdown or a big gain.
If the Raiders want to make it more difficult on Luck, then going with a quarterback spy might prove to be useful throughout the course of the game. Having one guy locked in on Luck while the others guard their man and the others try and pressure him sounds like a solid plan to contain one of the league’s top quarterbacks. If all goes well, the Raiders will be able to pressure the second-year quarterback into making some critical mistakes that the Raiders can capitalize on.
It will be interesting to see how this new Raiders’ defense will play together, and they will get their first official chance on Sunday in Indianapolis against a worthy opponent. Luck is a great quarterback, but he is not unstoppable. The Raiders must figure out an effective game plan to contain him and execute it to perfection.