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Quick hits: Notes, analysis on Raiders defense in week 9 win over Broncos

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A look back at some key points of the defensive play in the Week 9 win over Denver. Also see the Quick Hits for the offense.

Ken Norton's Group

  • Bear Front and Quarters Coverage. This does not look like a Seattle defense. Looks like some kind of Jack Del Rio / Ken Norton Jr fusion.
  • The defensive unit looks like it's starting to come together
  • Defense looked very well prepared
  • They were playing fast and strong and showed "confidence"
  • Rarely see guys looking around or throwing hands up after play
  • No personnel substitution problems.
  • DL depth is starting to show up as the young players are growing into their roles.
  • The Bye week allows for a week without game prep, so they can continue to work on fundamentals and perhaps get healthy

Run Defense

  • 12 rushes / 33 yards, 2.8 avg
  • Between rookie 4th round Devontae Booker (5'11", 208 lbs) and 3rd year DFA Kapri Bibbs (5'11", 203 lbs).
  • Denver missed CJ Anderson, but run defense was playing so well, it may not have mattered
  • 7 of 12 rushes (58%) were for 2 yards or less
  • I don't blame Denver HC Gary Kubiak for going away from the run; this group was just grinding it to hamburger
  • With effective run defense, backside defenders could play more disciplined. Ie., there was no excessive urgency to be overaggressive and get to the ball
  • Perry Riley and Malcolm Smith are able to play fast and smart when the DL does their job.
  • "Do your job" really only works when EVERYONE does their job.
  • When DL does their job, it makes things more predictable for the LB's. That allows them to make some plays :

  • Front side lanes were played well, with Force maintained and interior push to pinch the lane. Backside discipline maintained.

  • Darius Latham, Justin Ellis, Dan Williams, Jihad Ward, and Denico Autry were playing very well on the interior
  • When the unit is playing well and cohesively, Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin don't have to try to do everything themselves.
  • Broncos had only one really good run (10 yards) where Jihad Ward gets reach-blocked and the front side lane is open.

Denico Autry

  • Has been a liability in the run game all year
  • Often jumps out of his gap or gets tossed aside by combo blocks
  • Plays high and despite good size, does not play from Power Base
  • Never seemed capable of playing interior tech (3 tech and inside)
  • This game was a revelation and hopefully coming-of-age for Denico
  • Had monster game in run defense

  • Anchored well and took on double teams

  • Played effective pursuit and stayed discplined

  • Was exciting to see this development and was instrumental in improved run defense

Darius Latham

  • Stacy McGee's injury created opportunity for Darius Latham to get big reps
  • Latham did not disappoint
  • Was doing 'Big Business' on interior (Latham's twitter handle is @BigBusiness_25)
  • Plays with fantastic leverage. He is able to anchor and hold up against double teams

  • Was doing a lot of work

  • Has quick and violent hands
  • Has nice short area burst and movement
  • Plays hungry every down
  • Has a nice Spin move

  • Seems much more polished and farther along than fellow rookie Jihad Ward
  • Appears much more polished and effective now compared to Pre-season (naturally). This is a credit to Darius' hard work, but also give a nod to DL coach Jethro Franklin; he's been doing some great work developing the young talent on this team
  • How much of his effectiveness was his "fresh legs" (minimal snaps during 1st 8 games) and how much was seemingly inferior Denver OL?
  • Latham has earned increased playing time so we will get to see more of him in the back half of the season.
  • Interesting side note. Latham has long arms. He's 6'4" and his arm length is 34 3/4".
  • By comparison :
    • TEN RT Jack Conklin is 6'6" and has 35" arms
    • SD DE Joey Bosa is 6'5" and has 33 3/8" arms


  • This year, the Raiders' defense has started using "Quarters Coverage" (aka Cover 4) extensively.
  • Early on, there were some breakdowns and that was one of the reasons that some of the DB's looked slow and were out of position.
  • For the first time this year, the defense seemed comfortable in the Quarters coverage (for extended period of time)
  • There were still some missed plays, but overall much improved
  • One challenge of Quarters coverage is that (under certain situations) the safeties have man coverage on the inside receiver. That's what happened on Denver's first TD.
  • TJ Carrie had rough drive at end of 1st half. Played much better in 2nd half
  • Reggie Nelson's big hit on Demaryius Thomas in the first drive may have set the tone for the game

  • In TB game, David Amerson followed Mike Evans around the field. This game, Amerson did NOT follow Demaryius Thomas. Ken Norton trusted his DBs.
  • David Amerson started LCB, DJ Hayden at RCB. Against 3 WRs, DJ moved to slot and TJ Carrie played RCB.

DJ Hayden

  • Another Plus-game for DJ
  • This year, he's been attacking the ball much better
  • He's making plays on the ball and trying to strip the ball as WR's are making the catch. (ie., "Split and Strip")

  • A lot of confidence. The coaching staff believing in him is paying off. This confidence is letting him play faster and aggressive.
  • He played RCB in base and then moved to slot in Nickel situations
  • He's panicking a lot less and he's growing increasingly comfortable playing with his back to the ball
  • Other DB's growing more comfortable in assignments is helping him, also
  • He is generally able to challenge plays and force very good plays to beat him
  • He's a very good tackler
  • Improving in recognition of route combinations

  • A couple/few plays looked like completions against him, but were generally gaps in adjacent zones. Perry Riley a couple of times.
  • His PI against Demaryius Thomas was a "good PI" because DJ got beat and prevented a long gain or even TD on that play.
  • DJ is still not a finished product; he still has a lot of development left in him.

Khalil Mack

  • Yeah, he's good

  • And getting better

  • As the other defenders play faster and better, as the younger players get seasoned, Mack is going to come alive
  • Khalil Mack has not had his best game of 2016 yet.

A Little Bit of History

In 1980, the Oakland Raiders began the season with 6 new starters on defense, losing such players as LB Phil Villapiano and FS Jack Tatum.

The defense struggled early in the year, but it came together quite nicely in the second half of the season and the Oakland Raiders became a fearsome unit.

It may be asking too much for history to repeat itself, but maybe ... ?

Here are Jim Plunkett, Gene Upshaw, and Matt Millen to tell us about it :

See the Quick Hits for the offense