Oakland Raiders: Keys To Victory Over Chicago Bears

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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

Keep Experimenting, Keep Attacking

Aside from moving Carrie to safety last week, Del Rio and DC Ken Norton did some heavy in-game experimentation. And that experimentation ended up paying huge dividends.

The Raiders typically run a 4-3 base defense. However, in week two against Baltimore, they began to experiment a little bit with some 3-4 sets. The returns weren’t quite there, but there was some definite improvement in the pass rushing department.

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  • Against the Browns last week, they ran that 3-4 alignment quite a bit more an the result was stunning. Not only did they hold Cleveland to just 39 rushing yards – to be fair, Cleveland’s running game is terrible, but it’s still a noteworthy achievement – they tallied their first five sacks on the day. Five. After being shutout the first two weeks of the season.

    With Justin Tuck and Dan Williams getting a fantastic push up the guy, they Raiders had Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith set very strong edges and get after the quarterback. It was incredibly effective and completely disconcerting to Cleveland’s offense. They shut down the Browns’ rushing attack and harassed McCown all day, forcing him into some terrible mistakes.

    That switch to some 3-4 sets allowed Mack and Smith to operate in space, which gave them a real advantage over the offensive linemen who appeared to be completely overwhelmed. With both Mack and Smith on the field at the same time and coming from opposite edges, and a strong push up the middle from Williams and Tuck, the Browns had to pick their poison. It didn’t end up working out for them very well as Mack – who recorded his first two sacks of the year – Neiron Ball, Ray-Ray Armstrong, and Malcolm Smith all got in on Oakland’s sack party.

    Running some 3-4 sets was a fantastic and ingenious move by Del Rio and Norton. It utilized and maximized the talent on the roster and exploited some of Cleveland’s weaknesses. The ensuing chaos the defensive front created provided some cover for a weak secondary. The Raiders must do more of that moving forward.

    Next: Ground the Ground Game