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Quick hits: Notes, analysis on Raiders defense in week 15 win over Chargers

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Quick thoughts and insights on the defensive performance of the week 15 win over the Chargers


  • This defense is becoming Khalil Mack's defense. No question about who the leader is and he is absolutely taking charge
  • Defense is starting to look comfortable
  • Finally seem to be getting "fundamentally sound" schematically
  • Up front, the DL is not confused like they were and they are auto adjusting their postiions as needed
  • Hopefully, this signals the end of the worst of the Growing Pains with this young group
  • As the fundamentals has stabililzed, the defense is now adding more coverages and more pass rush plays
  • Now, Ken Norton can start layering and adding plays
  • Denico Autry's sack came on LB Crossdog stunt with Perry Riley alongside a fake T/E stunt that freed up Darius Latham. I do not recall seeing that scheme used previously.

Field Position Battle

  • Thank you, Offense + Special Teams
  • The BEST starting field position for SD was their own 26 yardline.
  • The average starting field position was their own 16.5 yardline
  • SD started inside their own 20 yardline 5 times, 4 of which were inside their own 10 yardline
  • Even if the offense isn't scoring, if they can move the ball up near midfield and then punt or get it down into the opposition area, then it really gives this defense a fighting chance
  • 3 scoring drives were 91, 80, 77 yards.

Efficiency on Defense

  • 10 non-trivial drives (SD had 1 end of half drive of no consequence)
  • 4 of them were 3-and-outs
  • 2 others were 4-and-done (both ended in turnovers)

Chunk Plays

  • 1 run of 10+ yards (17 yards)
  • 4 pass plays of 20+ yards (20, 21, 26, 47)
  • All 4 pass plays were in drives that resulted in TDs
  • 20 yard pass plays are inevitable against quality QB like Rivers, but limiting the big ones like the 47 yarder is key.
  • These 5 chunk plays resulted in 131 yards, 48% of their total 273 yards for the game
  • Despite giving up the big plays, the defense was also able to defend a few big plays, as well. Sometimes, we lose sight of the good plays because the bad ones are so memorable.

Zero Penalties on Defense

  • Are you kidding me?
  • No offsides
  • No Defensive Holding
  • No Pass Interference
  • No Roughing the Philip Rivers
  • Defense played a very clean game and the refs were letting the players play
  • 4 defensive penalties (3 accepted) in week 14 v KC
  • 2 in Week 13 v BUF
  • No free yards and no free first downs is a big deal in Oakland
  • Pay close attention in the last 2 games. Is Jack Del Rio's and Ken Norton's Commitment to Discipline starting to take effect?

Pass Defense

  • 30 pass attempts + 3 sacks = 33 drop backs
  • 17 completions, so completion rate is :
    • 52% of dropbacks
    • 57% of attempts
  • 10 of Rivers' completions (59%) were for under 10 yards
  • 6 of them for under 7 yards
  • 12.1 yards per completion
  • 6.9 yards per attempt
  • 5.8 yards per dropback (including sack lost yardage)
  • Median yards per dropback : 1 yard
    • This means that half the dropbacks resulted in 1 yard or less
  • Non-Mack/Irvin pass rush was lacking.
  • But at key moments, things happened, including this beautiful Cross Dog/End Stunt with Perry Riley picking and Denico Autry looping to get the sack.

  • Meanwhile on the opposite side, Darius Latham and Bruce Irvin run a fake E/T Stunt that totally deaks DJ Fluker. If Denico doesn't get Rivers, Latham would have. Kinda feel bad that Latham didn't get his first NFL sack here (but I'm sure he'll have quite a few in the future).

Run Defense

  • Totals : 22 att, 73 yards, 3.3 avg
  • 10 rushes (45%) of 3 yards or less
  • 3 rushes (14%) of negative yardage
  • 5 (non-trivial) rushes of 5+ yards (6,6,7,8,17). Note: 5 yard run on last play of 1st half as "trivial" run
    • Riley has a chance but can't bring the RB down, slides forward for 6
    • Loss of backside contain by Cowser for 8
    • Strong double creased Jihad Ward and missed gap fit by Riley opened huge running lane for 17
    • RB stacked up at the LOS, but drives forward for 6
    • Strong double team crashed Denico Autry and opened huge lane
  • Surrendered a 1st down by rush only twice (9%)
  • Denico seems to make a couple of big run defensive plays each week now

  • Strong interior play by Dan Williams and Justin Ellis, generally
  • Riley was flying inside and was disruptive. Either run blitzes called or quick play reads
  • Huge play to strip the ball

Sudden Change

  • The Offense turned the ball over on 2 drives in the 1st half
  • On each of those two early turnovers, the Defense forced a 3-and-out
  • On the first turnover drive, the 3rd down play where Bruce Irvin punches the ball out just short of the first down marker was huge
  • On the second turnover drive, two early down run stuff set up the 3rd down incompletion and the punt

Khalil Mack

  • Is continuing to play the QB Naked really well
  • Improved Game IQ :
    • With Rivers using quick passing game on short drops, Mack started to use more inside moves.
    • Instead of speed outside or speed-to-power, Mack was countering and slanting hard inside
    • Since Rivers is non-mobile, Mack was willing to sell out to flush Rivers out of the pocket
    • On both Irvin sacks, Mack flushes Rivers and sets up the sacks
    • This is the role that (hopefully) Mario Edwards would be able to fill


Bruce Irvin

  • He really did seem like he was everywhere
  • Energizer bunny. All year, Bruce has been non-stop hustle and it's incredible for as many snaps as he plays.
  • Shows that amazing closing speed and was close to another 1-2 sacks
  • A QB with slightly longer delivery is dead in so many situations

Nate Allen

  • Pass breakup
  • Very aggressive about getting his nose into the play on run defense
  • Tied for the team lead with 6 total tackles (4 solo)
  • Very pleasant surprise filling in for Karl Joseph

Big Plays when Needed

  • The defense gave up that early big play to Travis Benjamin for the 47 yard TD, but then settled in after that (mostly).
  • In a DogFight of a game, every play matters. Lots of defensive players came up and contributed to this win
  • Different players made key plays at key moments of the game
    • Bruce Irvin punching the ball out on 3rd down just short of the 1st down to force a punt
    • David Amerson's perfect route recognition and big hit short of the first down to force a late-game punt
    • Denico Autry's sack forced a punt
    • Bruce Irvin's sack and pressure on the final drive
    • Khalil Mack's pressure on the final drive
    • Perry Riley's strip forced fumble and Malcolm Smith's recovery
    • Keith McGill blocking the PAT
  • Amerson's 3rd down stop was a huge play and may have been the defensive play of the game
  • Clutch closing out the game with 4-and-out on final drive
  • When the offense struggles and they can rely on the Defense to pick them up, it's a big deal. That should relieve some of the pressure on Derek Carr and the offense going forward.

11 - 3 and going strong