Raiders Pass Rush Must Build On Solid Start

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Oakland Raiders DE Benson Mayoya
Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco is sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive end Benson Mayowa during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

The Miserable 13 — no more? Ridiculed for their lack of sack prowess last season, the Oakland Raiders defense was the butt of a myriad of jokes. Yet, this past Monday night, the vaunted Denver Broncos sported a big fat donut in the sack column while the Oakland Raiders furiously racked up three quarterback takedowns.

Good Start

Benson Mayowa led the charge with two sacks while rookie Clelin Ferrell dropped Denver QB Joe Flacco once. Another sack — Vontaze Burfict’s violent blitz up the middle — was wiped out by a penalty.

“I don’t want to hear about 13 no more,” Mayowa said in reference to the amount of sacks the team had last season. “We got three. All we need is 10 more, and that’s three in one game, so we just have to keep stacking. Next time we get four. Next time we get five. We did a good job today, and we just have to keep stopping the run, so we can get into passing situations, and every passing situation we get in, that’s how we get sacks. That’s what we’re looking forward to.”

Sure, you can argue the sacks were of the “cheap” variety. None were the blink-of-an-eye, make the tackle look foolish, type sacks. Yet, the sacks occurred due of team play combined with individual effort.

How so?

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Coverage.

The backend of the Raiders defense did its job thoroughly forcing Flacco to hold on to the football for way too long. Look at Ferrell’s sack for instance. Flacco dropped back, went through his progressions — twice — and since he doesn’t have the wiggle other QBs possess, Ferrell was able to push and nab the sack.

Ferrell was relieved he got his first-career sack in the opener.

“Hell yeah. It felt like a big ol’ monkey off my back, for real. Not because I feel pressure, but it was just about – as a defensive lineman, you’re always just thinking about when you’re going to get your first sack, and especially in this league, because they’re so hard to come by, and for it come in my debut, it felt amazing. Truly a blessing, and hats off to my teammates, because they’re the ones putting me in that position.”

Anomaly or Omen?

Does Monday night’s outburst mean the Raiders will become a terrorizing defense? Hell, no. But it’s encouraging nonetheless. Especially for a team that couldn’t even get near the quarterback last season — the team looked like it needed to do a required 5-alligator count before rushing the QB and didn’t know how to count past 3 — you take sacks anyway you can get them.

Cheap, or not.

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