In the AFC West, one thing remains true: the road goes through Kansas City. Like it or not, the Chiefs sit atop of the division. For the Raiders to run towards the playoffs, they must find a way to conquer their despised rivals. More importantly, the Chiefs now boast two electric wideouts to contend with. Granted, people will think what they want about Tyreek Hill, but his talent remains a headache. Additionally, the drafting of Georgia wideout Mecole Hardman presents another level of concern for defenses. How should the Raiders contend with them? To answer this, FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria and Terrance Biggs sit down and discuss.
- Pass rush.
- Back end coverage.
The first is going to be difficult because the Raiders were a paragon for ineptness last season with an embarrassing season 13 sacks. But, to disrupt any passing offense, a team must get to the quarterback as quickly as possible.
Moreover, what’s the shortest route to from one point to another? Straight ahead.
That means the Raiders interior pass rush must elevate exponentially this year. If must break through and make Patrick Mahomes sweat.
Mahomes has more maneuverability than he’s given credit for in the pocket and the variety of throws he can make from seemingly almost any delivery (side-arm, no look, bomb) makes it even more difficult.
On the back end, Raiders corners and safeties must routinely get burned by Antonio Brown in order to get film, learn and execute improvement. They’ve got an all-world wide receiver and it’s imperative the Raiders use him in ways that allows the current crop of defensive backs to grow.
Getting used to AB’s speed and route running ability should allow the DBs to get a glimpse of what’s in store this season.
Especially if the Raiders use more press-man technique or the man-trail tech.
Get Home with Four
If you look back and dominant defenses throughout defenses, some possess one characteristic. Those defenses generated pressure with their front four. The Raiders need their defensive line to do the lion’s share of the disruption. As a result, Hill and Hardman will need to surf through seven defenders. After drafting Clelin Ferrell fourth, pressuring Patrick Mahomes needs to remain their top priority. On the other side, Maxx Crosby, Arden Key, et al, must win that one-on-one battle. In the middle, Mo Hurst and PJ Hall must generate enough pressure to get Mahomes moving around. While the back seven will ultimately make the play, that front four needs to dominate.
If the Raiders hope to defeat the Chiefs, Hill and Hardman need containing. On top of that, with the Chiefs’ anemic running game, eliminating their perimeter threats could help.