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Raiders Film Review: Pass defense takes advantage of rookie QB in win against Bengals

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders pass defense picked up right where it left off against the Chargers with a dominant effort against the Bengals. Rookie QB Ryan Finley was held to a 42 percent completion percentage, sacked five times, and had a fumble and interception on the day. Paul Guenther’s unit seems to have disregarded run defense in favor of rushing the passer in recent weeks and it has translated into splash plays and turnovers for defense.

Disrupting the catch

From early on in the game, Finley was under duress. There were times when he was able to break the pocket and make a play with his legs. However, he was staring down his receivers frequently and allowing the defenders to break on passes. Safety Erik Harris notched his eighth pass defensed in this game. Credit the coverage for maintaining discipline and gluing to the receivers during the scramble drill.

CB Daryl Worley was credited with two passes defensed in this game. This play stood out because even though Worley is late getting out of his break, he has great technique to rake the catch point and time his hands perfectly. The Raiders man-heavy scheme (where even zone concepts turn into man) allow for secondary players to stay in phase and make physical plays like this.

Rookie CB Travyon Mullen also got involved in the PBU party. On this single-high blitz call, Mullen has the outside furthest receiver in man coverage. He has a silky smooth break on the ball, but shows why he plays defense by dropping a sure pick-six. Mullen would redeem himself by later hauling in the game-sealing interception.

Maxx Crosby wins

Crosby had a career game for the Silver and Black. His four sacks helped the defense stop the Bengals in their tracks and get the ball back to the offense. His first sack on the day came on a speed rush, where he took an outside track using a chop move to disrupt the punch of the left tackle. His acceleration around the corner pops off the tape and he knocks the ball loose when he arrives at the QB.

The fourth quarter came and Crosby showed that motor everyone has been raving about. As a player who is drastically lighter than the left tackle, he goes right down the middle of the blocker, bull rushing him back into the QB. This play shows how much juice Crosby has coming off the edge and how despite his weight, he can convert speed into power enough to walk a tackle back into the pocket.

After an unblocked sack on a play-action boot play (hey Cincy, you should probably block that guy), Crosby notched his fourth sack of the game in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. He already won on a speed rush, then a bull rush, and now he wins by stunting inside. Watch how Crosby is able to maintain speed even when his body is at a severe angle, kind of like how motorcycle racers take corners. Crosby showcased bend, power, burst, and finishing capabilities in this game.


The defense did surrender 173 yards rushing on the ground and the Bengals were able to stay in it late as a result. Many of those run plays were around the edges of the defense. The Raiders will need to figure out how to coordinate their run support before they can pitch a perfect game.

Curtis Riley and newly acquired DJ Swearinger rotated during the game. Riley played obvious passing situations, while Swearinger played the run defense. He made a couple run stops and just might pick up right where Karl Joseph left off once he’s acclimated to the defense.

Another new addition, Dion Jordan, saw time as a pass rush specialist on the inside. He was credited with one sack on a Finley scramble that failed to make it past the line of scrimmage. Temper your expectations for him, none of the players that Guenther has played at the inside pass rusher position have produced much (Ferrell, Key, Wilbur) as they all struggled to overpower guards and come free on stunts.