When the Oakland Raiders face the Denver Broncos on Monday night, they will see a slightly different rival. After a couple of unsuccessful and rather terrible years, the Broncos are aiming to make rather quick strides. On their way back to contention, the Raiders need to stop the Denver offense.
Now, while the name Rick Scangarello will not ring many bells, his pedigree will. Scangarello worked for the 49ers as their quarterbacks coach, under Kyle Shanahan. The Shanahan name is legendary in Denver, as Mike coached the Elway Broncos to championships. With that said, Scangarello embraces elements on the zone run game. In addition, the tight end and fullback could play an integral role in Denver’s offense. When facing the Raiders, look for Denver to attempt to establish the run very early, in order to bleed the clock. Plus, many credit Scangarello with the development of Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco.
Granted, Joe Flacco remains far removed from his Super Bowl run. Back then, he relied on a phenomenal defense to force ten turnovers in four playoff games. Basically, all Flacco needed to do was stretch the defense and average over 250 yards passing. During sixteen regular-season games, Flacco eclipsed that mark six times. Meanwhile, in the playoffs, he average that number with plenty to spare. What makes Flacco dangerous, and potentially irritating to the Raiders is his ability to find the vertical receiver. With his arm talent, Flacco causes defensive coordinator stress. He truly believes that he can over throw coverage. If the Raiders need to blitz, they need to get home. If not, you will see corners and safeties forty yards down the field. While he’s blesses with a cannon, Flacco is highly immobile and he cannot evade the rush.
Former Colorado Buffalo Phillip Lindsay won the starting job in 2018, as an undrafted free agent. More importantly, Lindsay provides the Broncos with a gamebreaking back that forces linebackers into uncomfortable spots. In addition, his strength could give the perceived weakness of the Raiders fits. With Burfict and Whitehead, the Raiders employ excellent run-stuffing linebackers. However, with agility and wiggle, Lindsay could gain the corner and meet them in the open field. Second-year back Royce Freeman serves as the backup. Unlike Lindsay, Freeman offers a bit more of a bruising style, used to wear down linemen late.
As mentioned, the tight end figures into the Broncos offense. Between Jeff Heuermann and rookie Noah Fant, expect to see a great deal of two-tight end sets. While Heuermann blocks well, the speedy Fant will look to break the seam, On the outside, veteran Emmanuel Sanders still possess crisp routes, speed and sticky hands. Look for Gareon Conley to shadown him. On the other side, Courtland Sutton displays a stronger, more physical nature to his play. This matchup screams Daryl Worley. Luckily for the Raiders, he doesn’t own the quickest feet or much burst.
Given these points, the Oakland Raiders should commence their 2019 campaign with a victory. With Flacco, if his last year in Baltimore serves as any clue, is declining. Yet, the secondary needs to understand that he will attempt to throw himself out of any funk. In essence, if the Raiders grab the lead, depending on a 34-year-old quarterback with a 61.7 completion percentage helps Oakland.