Oakland Raiders: Notes And Observations From Week Eight

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Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. encourages the defense before the start of the game against the New York Jets at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Norton’s Bandit Defense Needs To Go

To paraphrase an old saying, “prevent defenses only prevent you from winning.”

While they’ve been winning so far, DC Ken Norton‘s “Bandit” defense is providing Oakland’s fans a few more heart stopping, gut wrenching moments than we need.

After building up a 37-6 lead against the Chargers in the third quarter a couple of weeks ago, Norton rolled out the “Bandit” defense – which is a version of the prevent – and it allowed San Diego QB Philip Rivers to get hot and get his team rolling. The Chargers chewed up a lot of yards and wound up scoring 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. A 37-6 laugher turned into a bit of a nail-biter with Oakland holding on for a 37-29 win.

After building a 28-6 lead in the third quarter against the Jets, Norton again deployed the “Bandit” defense and magically, Geno Smith got hot and the offense started to move. The Jets racked up 366 yards of offense against the Raiders with Smith throwing for 265 of those yards. He also tossed two touchdown passes to make it a little bit of a closer game.

Most people argue that the leads were insurmountable, that there was no way the Chargers or the Jets were coming back from those deficits, and that the Raiders had the game in the bag, so relax about it.

Maybe so. But if you’ve watched football long enough, you’ve seen strange things happen. If you let a team build some momentum and creep back into a game – like the Chargers did – you very well could be setting yourself up to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

A successful onside kick here, a really bad call by the officials there, or perhaps something completely unexpected or freakish happens and boom, your lead is suddenly gone.

After all, we’re pretty sure that Jim Harbaugh and Michigan thought they had their game against Michigan State in the bag recently and look what happened there – a routine punt that would have sealed a Michigan win gets dropped and before you can say fumble, Michigan State was in the endzone with the game winning touchdown.

Or how about Duke? They probably thought they had a win over Miami sealed when an eight lateral kick return yielded a touchdown and a win for the Hurricanes.

The point is that anything can happen and if you let a team hang around or creep back into a game, bad things can and do happen. The Raiders are a team that cannot rest on its laurels. They need to keep pressing, keep attacking, and keep punching opponents in the mouth. Norton’s “Bandit” defense needs to go.

Next: Doing The Job