Oakland Raiders: Keys To Victory Over Baltimore Ravens

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August 30, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) during the second quarter in a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals at O.co Coliseum. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Blitz, Blitz, and Then Blitz Some More

The Raiders’ defensive front is loaded with talented players. Justin Tuck, Justin Ellis, Dan Williams, C.J. Wilson, Khalil Mack, Mario Edwards Jr., Curtis Lofton, Malcolm Smith, Aldon Smith, and Ray-Ray Armstrong help form one of the more intimidating defensive fronts in the league.

The trouble last week though, was that defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., put the shackles on his defense and didn’t let them do what they can do.

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The conservative defensive approach against Cincinnati was surprising, given the absolute havoc Oakland’s cast of characters can potentially create. Norton did not utilize one of the biggest weapons this Raiders defense has going for them – the blitz.

Instead of unleashing the beast, Norton put the handcuffs on them and played a very vanilla defense. That vanilla defense allowed Andy Dalton to sit back in the pocket all day long and pick apart the Raiders’ defense – which he did to the tune of 269 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and a passer rating of about 116.0.

Oakland cannot afford to play it vanilla or play it safe this week. Norton absolutely has to unshackle his defense and let them tear up this Baltimore offense. The Ravens will be without their beast of a left tackle Eugene Monroe, who is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

And that is the point of attack for the Raiders.

Monroe’s replacement, James Hurst was absolutely abused by the Denver Broncos defense last week and they got consistent pressure on Joe Flacco. With the help of intense pressure, the Denver defense limited Flacco to 117 yards passing, and a dismal 38.2 passer rating. They also sacked him twice and forced him into two interceptions. And Hurst, played a key role in Denver’s dominating defensive performance.

Be it Khalil Mack or Aldon Smith, the Raiders absolutely must attack the weak point in the Baltimore offensive line – James Hurst. Norton has to dial up some blitzes and that Raiders defensive front must be allowed to wreak havoc in the Baltimore backfield.

The Raiders are so shaky – and now incredibly thin – in their defensive backfield, that the defensive front is going to need to put insane amounts of pressure on Flacco, keep him running, and force him into some mistakes, just to cover for their poor play in the secondary.

Norton can’t play it safe this week. He absolutely must unleash the beast.

Next: Ground and Pound