Oakland Raiders: Notes and Observations From Week Three

9 of 11

Sep 27, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack (52) forces a fumble by Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) in a NFL game at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Browns 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pass Rush Arrives

The Raiders’ pass rush appears to be one of those old cars that you have to turn over again and again and again before it coughs and sputters its way to life. Over the first two games, the Raiders didn’t have a single, solitary sack to their credit. Not one. Which, with talent like Aldon Smith, Justin Tuck, and of course, Khalil Mack, was truly mind boggling. How could that be?

On Sunday, that engine on that pass rush finally caught and it roared to life. The Raiders recorded not just one, but five sacks on the day. Five.

Ray-Ray Armstrong kicked the sack party off, but was soon joined by Malcolm Smith, Khalil Mack (twice), and Neiron Ball who added a big one with Cleveland driving late in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders defensive front harrassed Josh McCown and the Browns’ offense mercilessly through the first half of the game. There didn’t seem to be a play when McCown didn’t have somebody in his face, or wasn’t picking himself up out of the dirt. The pocket around him collapsed fast and McCown got hit and got hit often.

For Raiders fans it was a beautiful and long overdue sight to behold.

Norton dialed up some pressure and it paid huge dividends for the Raiders. He throttled back once the Raiders got to a 17 point lead in the second half — which was a mistake. It allowed Cleveland to hang around and climb back into the game.

What Norton and the defense did early worked. It knocked the Browns for a big loop. To be successful, the Raiders must continue doing that same exact thing. The pressure the defensive front put to Cleveland gave a struggling secondary a lot of cover. And the Raiders need that badly.

Next: A Real Trouble Spot