Barreling into the winter, the Oakland Raiders face winnable matchups and a clear path to the playoffs. With that said, questions remain.
1. In facing a team they should easily defeat. What four keys do you have for this game?
Front four pressure. The Raiders seemingly came out of the blue with natural front-four pressure against the Chargers and we saw what that can do even against the seasoned and accomplished Philip Rivers. Oakland does that to Cincy this weekend and only good things can come.
Established the run early. Get Josh Jacobs the rock frequently and as early as possible and let spell backs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard and even bulldozer Alec Ingold get some totes.
Let newcomer DJ Swearinger get some work in on blitzes. I know I said front-four pressure in No. 1, however, we’ve seen the Raiders not get that consistently, so, have the new safety come downhill and go after the ball.
Work in Isaiah Johnson, Swearinger and Dion Jordan (if he’s active) as much as possible. If there’s a game to get the relative newbies some work, it’s this one and the Jets tilt the following week. Get them snaps and comfortable with the terminology and scheme so when things do ramp back up, they’ll be ready.
2. How do you think the arrivals of Swearinger and Jordan affect the defense and who should see their snaps diminished?
Swearinger is another thumper safety who has some center field experience, like the injured Karl Joseph. The two are similar in size and skill although one can argue Swearinger has veteran savvy. How he assimilates to the Paul Guenther system will be intriguing. Jordan, on the other hand, is another pass rusher for a team that is famished for talent. He’s tight with Tom Cable from their Seattle days and appears bigger and more muscular than when he came out of Oregon. Jordan would do well to take the Arden Key role.
3.The Raiders have a favorable remaining schedule. What is the trap game that worries you most and why?
All the remaining games worry me, if I’m being honest. The Raiders aren’t good enough to see games as “traps”. They’re all traps and it’s wise Jon Gruden is taking that approach. He lamented on the loss the Saints took against the Falcons and how the Colts got dropped by the Dolphins. From the Bengals game this Sunday to the regular-season finale against the Chargers in L.A., the Raiders must take a one-game-at-a-time approach and stack Ws accordingly.
4. The Raiders, with more success, will be on more of a national stage, what advice do you have for fans that have to listen to awful play by play?
Lower the volume or even mute it and play music of your choice. There’s only three color commentators I like to listen to these days: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon and Tony Romo. Well, four: Gus Johnson, but he doesn’t do NFL games anymore.
It would surely be a hell of a feat if the NFL provided field-only audio and allowed viewers to silence the commentary and only listen to the sounds of the field and stadium. If there were an organization that could do that, it would be the loaded NFL, no?