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How Raiders are scheming one-on-ones for Khalil Mack

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This season Ken Norton Jr has been using blitzes so much that you might think that there’s a ‘Mad Scientist’ on the sidelines (ok, it’s not quite that bad). Far more than in the past, we’ve seen Karl Joseph blitzing or Nick Morrow coming or Marquel Lee hitting it up the middle and many times some kind of combination thereof.

Against Washington in week three, Kirk Cousins was reading the blitzes easily and finding open guys.

Since then, Norton has been adjusting those blitzes and making them more diverse and more fundamentally sound. Against San Diego, a number of the defensive rotations on blitzes were very nice.

Norton showed blitz quite often against Kansas City, but going against pattern, this time he backed off the blitz almost every time. While we often saw additional potential rushers milling around the line of scrimmage, nearly each time, they dropped back and left only the 4—or sometimes 3—rushers.

On a couple of occasions, these fake blitzes gave Mack a nice one-on-one.

The running back is offset away from Mack. NaVorro Bowman and Bruce Irvin show aggressive blitz look. This look has the LT, LG, and C all covered up and forces a protection call to get them manned up.

Then on the snap, both bail, leaving only 3 man rushing. Notice that Denico Autry draws the double team, the RG is blocking Air, and Khalil Mack has a one-on-one with Eric Fisher.

Mack does what Mack does.

Then there was this on that crucial final defensive stand where the defense needed to get a 3-and-out to give their offense a chance to win it.

The RB is offset toward Mack, so now line up Nick Morrow to the outside and Navorro Bowman to the inside. As before, the LT, LG, and C are all covered up. But now, Morrow’s blitz presence forces the RB to pick him up instead of chipping Mack.

On the snap, Bowman drops and Morrow shows blitz. But Morrow is only drawing the RB and engages him to protect against a dumpoff. Also note that Bruce Irvin is mugging Kelce on the shallow drag, also preventing a short throw.

Here’s a closer look at Mack:

Note that part of what gave the Bowman Blitz a threat there was that just the previous series, Norton unleashed Bowman for one of the few times in the game.

Here’s the ‘Mike Dog’ for Bowman. The defense lines up in a very ‘Vanilla’ pass rush look and right on the snap, Bowman comes flying thru the line like a 250lb guided missile.

Khalil Mack justifiably gets the credit for his devastating moves against Eric Fisher and for the key stop, but we all know that there’s no way that’s the protection Andy Reid intended. A major part of the success was the play call that allowed Mack to get a free and clear 1-on-1.