Fresh off their first victory in two seasons, the Browns head to Oakland to battle the Raiders. With their win in hand, the pressure slides off the Browns. Now, the Raiders need to find a way to give the home crowd something to cheer about. Granted, the Browns’ offense may not seem formidable, weapons do exist. The Raiders need to treat every contest like a playoff game.
When Baker Mayfield took over for Tyrod Taylor, energy resonated through the offense. Mayfield, the first overall pick in April’s draft bring a plethora of tools to the field. First, Mayfield engineers drives to get the ball vertically. Blessed with a strong arm, he will test corners outside the numbers with velocity. Although he does not possess gamebreaking speed, Mayfield can escape the pocket to either find a throwing lane or rumble down field for positive yardage. Most importantly, Mayfield brings a fearless, cocky approach. If playing major college football and entering as the top pick did not faze him, then starting his first game on the road will not either.
Oakland Suggestions: While supremely confident, Mayfield will make rookie mistakes. If Paul Guenther wants to rattle Mayfield, give him multiple looks and make sure that he cannot get comfortable.
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With Josh Gordon in Foxboro, the onus to help a rookie quarterback falls to the backs. First, the trio of Hyde, Johnson, and rookie Nick Chubb give the Browns a deep backfield. Hyde is the power back that generates just enough in the open field to break long runs. However, his 3.3 yards per carries means that the Browns will use him as the hammer. On the other hand, Duke Johnson’s ability to get upfield will give the Raiders enough pause as to not overpursue. Facing a shifty back requires lane integrity and patience. Lastly, Nick Chubb will eventually supplant Hyde at the lead back. Early on, Chubb’s 5.9 yards per rush bolsters his draft notes. Chubb is a bigger back that can separate in the open field. While a college knee injury have sapped a bit of his long speed, the second gears remain a problem
Oakland Suggestion: The Raiders paid Jelly Ellis, drafted young tackles over the past two years and sign a couple recently. Amongst them, they need to crush the pocket. As a result keeping those tackles fresh with heavy rotation should stem the attack.
As mentioned, Josh Gordon’s departure should benefit the Raiders. Jarvis Landry presents the only credible receiving threat the Brown employ. Perhaps the best route runner in the AFC, Landry lives in the intermediate route trees. As a result, he sees a high number of targets. Conversely, Antonio Callaway gives the Browns a vertical threat that Mayfield will love immediately. Little nuance exists with Callaway’s route tree. With Mayfield, look for Callaway to bump that 14.4 yards per catch number up.
Oakland Suggestion: Line up the much quicker Conley on Landry and let Melvin stay with Callaway. With safety help over the top, that should negate the long speed.
In reality, the Cleveland Browns will enter O.co with confidence and hope. Under those circumstances, the Raiders need to extinguish that quickly.