Should the Oakland Raiders blitz Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes this Sunday? It’s fitting I’m listening to Harlem Heat’s WCW entrance music as I ponder the question. For those unfamiliar, the tag team’s theme begins with “Yes, yes yes. No, no, no.” It’s a tough to have a definitive answer, especially because of this:
Mahomes made teams rue the day they blitzed last season. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Mahomes sported a league-best passer rating 124.6 (minimum of 50 attempts) when blitzed.
That doesn’t bode well, however …
Mahomes Is Ailing
While he’s practiced without limitations, Mahomes ankle — which got rolled up on pretty good against Jacksonville in the season opener — has to be tender. The Raiders should test thank ankle out early and often with a blitzer. See exactly how well the Chiefs’ signal caller can move on that foot which is likely to be heavily taped. Additionally …
Better Depth Chart
The Raiders showcase a much better first and reserve lineup on the front four and the backend. Linebacker remains a concern, but a reinforced defensive line and secondary — even minus stout rookie Johnathan Abram — gives the Raiders a much better presence defensively than the one Mahomes faced in 2018.
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But, in order to get the opportunities to disrupt Mahomes, the Raiders need to snuff out the run and that’s where Josh Mauro, Clelin Ferrell and the rest of the crew come in.
Let’s put this in perspective: The Chiefs ran for a total of 113 yards against the once-vaunted Jaguars defense and racked up 378 yards through the air with three scores (all TDs and 198 of those yards belonging to a resurgent Sammy Watkins).
Before Mahomes’ ankle got hurt, he was an astounding 16 of 20 for 313 yards and two touchdowns. He finished 25 of 33 for 378 and no picks.
Yes, the Raiders should blitz Mahomes, but do it wisely. Unlike the quarterback the Raiders faced in the opener, Mahomes is much more fluid and mobile than Denver’s Joe Flacco. Paul Guenther’s unit is playing much better with veteran Vontaze Burfict in the middle and Lamarcus Joyner in the secondary. The communication and cohesiveness was on display last Monday night as the Raiders both blitzed and dropped back in coverage to stymie Flacco and the Broncos offense for much of the night.
The Raiders need to know exactly where they stand in the AFC West and against a hated rival. What better way to do it than on the attack, defensively.