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Quick hits: Notes, analysis on Raiders defense in week 14 loss to Chiefs

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Quick thoughts and insights on the defensive performance of the week 14 loss to the Chiefs

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The Defense came to play

  • On a short week, the young defense with the inexperienced coordinator showed up
  • Perhaps helped by the short week because the Chiefs' Offense also did not have full prep
  • We may be seeing a young defense growing up.
  • Far fewer mistakes and blown coverages

Then-and-Now

  • The TD to Tyreek Hill was a Quarters-beater. It was an Out / Post route combination that draws the safety and leaves the CB isolated outside.

  • If you are having a sense of deja vu, it's the exact same route combo that San Diego used in Week 5.

  • Against KC, Amerson plays it better than against SD, but seems like he just misjudges Hill's speed. Even trailing Hill, Amerson is not that far off from making a play :

  • Interestingly, the coverage was actually a combination coverage. Half the defense was in Man Coverage ("2-Man") and the other was in Quarters. Andy Reid had a perfect play prepared for it and Alex Smith easily read it and made the throw.
  • There were a few clear instances where Andy Reid had plays set up for the Raiders' coverage, including one where the Raiders had a nice safety rotation play.
  • Even in a short week, Andy Reid had the defensive coverage well scouted and the KC offense was prepared to attack it.
  • Raiders' defensive execution improved signifantly after that however.
  • TJ Carrie's interception was v Bunch formation and Carrie reads the route perfectly and undercuts the throw

  • This should be a touch reminiscent of Week 2 vs Atlanta.
  • At the end of the game, the Raiders' defense had one last chance to give the hot offense a chance, but on third down, the defense blew a coverage against... Bunch formation.

Run defense was working it hard

  • 27/65, 2.4, long of 8 yards
  • 13 rushes of 2 yards or less
  • On short yardage runs (3 yards to go or less). KC converted only 2 out of 7 (29%)
  • Including the big stand on 4th-and-1 on the first series
  • Only 4 rushes of 5 yards or more (6,6,7,8)
  • The run defense has been playing pretty well last 3-4 games (excluding that first half of the Buffalo game), but the biggest problem was that they would give up a couple of big runs (15+ yards). This week, we saw them eliminate those explosive plays. Hopefully this will continue.
  • Safety support on run defense was important. Nate Allen made the big tackle on the 4th-and-short, for instance.
  • In fact, Nate Allen led the team in tackles with 8 (6 solo and 2 assts)
  • Seems like PB&J were together in this game a bit; also Dan Williams seems to have been playing well recently.
  • Discipline on 4th-and-2 attempt to draw offsides was fantastic to see.
  • Denico Autry has been improving on his run defense. Looks like a totally different run defender now than he did in Week 1-4. This is either coaching him up (getting him to play with lower leverage and attack into blockers) or an adjustment of scheme (less slanting).
  • Is it a coincidence that Denico's run defense improved significantly when Darius Latham was elevated and given a chance? Remember that Ken Norton was indoctrinated in Pete Carroll's "Competition Everywhere" philosophy.
  • Branden Jackson got some reps in, but did not look good in run defense. 2 big KC runs came with Jackson in the game. (at least I think it was Jackson; it's almost impossible to read the #s with low contrast Silver Numbers on White jerseys. Ugh)
  • Seems like recently there are a few nice Denico run defense plays each week. This one is 1-on-1 against Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff (6'5", 322 lbs) :

Kelce

  • I hate him, but I (and the Raiders' defense) gave tons of respect ot Kelce.
  • The defense tried to send as much attention at him as they could.
  • Slowed him down a bit at times, but couldn't really contain him!
  • Tried to body him with someone and then pass him off to another coverage defender
  • Sometimes sending bracket coverage to him
  • But when he got single coverage, he ran free
  • Would have liked to see Karl Joseph get another try at him. Karl's coverage has been improving and he has the speed and agility to stay with him, but not the size. It would be interesting.
  • On Mack's strip sack, QB Alex Smith was looking for Kelce. Bruce Irvin was bumping Kelce underneath before passing him off; that bumping and coverage bought the time for Mack to make the play

Jihad Improving, but...

  • Jihad is noticeably improved from the beginning of the year and makes strides week to week
  • He's much better at getting off the ball and attacking with his hands
  • He does a solid job engaging and moving on outside zone runs
  • Had 7 tackles v KC (5 solo, 2 combined) which was tied for 2nd on the team
  • Starting to get a little push at times
  • Not disruptive
  • Still cannot handle double teams at all
  • Jihad Ward's offsides penalty was tough, but it's part of the growth of the young player. What is nice to see is that he's starting to get really much more aggressive and working on his get off.
  • May be helped most when Mario Edwards, Stacy McGee, and Darius Latham come back healthy.
  • It will allow Jihad to be rotational player with limited snaps.
  • Offseason strength and conditioning will be huge for him
  • But don't expect much impact from him this year

Turnovers

  • 1 int, 1 forced fumble, 1 over on downs

Khalil Mack keeps getting better... and there's no end in sight

  • His 3rd consecutive game with a strip sack
  • 4th in the last 5 games
  • 5 forced fumbles in the last 6 games
  • He's using the CWood grip and rip move, but powered by his own Monster strength
  • He was this close to another one

  • We are definitely not worthy

  • It seems like the Chiefs went into a more conservative offense in the 2nd half.
  • Mack may be the single biggest reason for that. With the Raiders' offense erratic and struggling to score, it seemed the only way the Raiders were going to get back into this was with some big defensive plays.
  • Trying to throw downfield again is just begging for Khalil to get a Strip-6.
  • Eric Fisher actually looks pretty good and I think he's still growing into his final form. Great combination of size and athleticism and he's starting to really get his technique down. Starting to really look like a top pick.
  • Mack got that one play on him for the strip sack, but on a few occassions, Fisher held (ahem) his own! He's going to be a good player to battle against for years to come.
  • I actually don't care about Defensive Player of the Year; what I do care about is that this is how a player becomes the Heart and Soul and unquestioned Leader of the defense : Taking a vocal leader position AND making big plays at crucial times on the field. He also has the "Michael Jordan Effect" (or maybe we should call it the "CWood Effect"?) : The best, most respected, most talented player on the defense is the hardest worker. No excuses for anyone else to slack off.
  • And as we saw in the Carolina, Mack is also one to lift up his teammates. He and Derek Carr (on the opposite side) bring so much positive energy to the team to build that great atmosphere.
  • This defense is starting to come together. They believed in each other from the beginning and now the results are starting to show up on the field. On a short week, short-handed, this young defense stepped up and are now looking to return some key players. This unit may be peaking at just the right time.
  • Next three games could signal what we've all been waiting for, a defense that matches the offense.