Raiders now blitzing like never before

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Raiders now blitzing like never before

ALAMEDA -- The Silver and Black elephant in the room is starting to get noticed. And, some might say, poked.There's no doubt the late Al Davis eschewed blitzing. He wanted straight man-to-man defense with his cornerbacks playing bump-and-run and the front seven dominating enough to apply pressure without any gadget plays.Even when blitzing worked, as it did with aplomb two years ago against Philadelphia and a confounded Donovan McNabb, there were rumblings that not everyone in the building was happy. Imagine the reaction if it had backfired.

Even departed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha questioned the Raiders' defensive scheme ... after signing a big-money deal to play man defense.Blitzing was an anomaly, a crutch, of sorts, was the thinking upstairs. And while the team might install such packages during a game week, rarely did it ever surface in a game.That philosophy, though, has changed within the past two weeks, it seems.Consider this from STATS LLC: including run plays, the Raiders blitzed an average of 8 12 times per game through their first four games this season. In their last two games, against Houston and Cleveland, the Raiders blitzed an average of 28 12 times per game.Shocking, right? As if the numbers didn't speak for themselves, first-year coach Hue Jackson added some spice."I think it's been pretty vanilla here in the past," Jackson said, "and I think (opponents) have kind of known how to attack us."Some might see that as a shot at the old Xs and Os mantra in Silver and Blackdom. Others might see it as a long-awaited evolution.Just win by any scheme necessary, baby?"We're definitely more colorful now that we're not as vanilla, we're not as predictable as we've been in years past," cornerback Stanford Routt said. "That's the main thing, try to confuse the quarterback and get him to make decisions and reads in the actual play, rather than already being able to make a pre-snap read and determination where he wants to go with the ball."Football is a game of chess not checkers. Anytime you're out there being predictable or playing into the other team's hands, as far as what they can expect from you, you're not putting yourself in the best chance to win the game. Any time you can go and throw a wrinkle in there, obviously you want to do that. Because if I know what you're going to do before you do it, your chances to win are not that good. Obviously it's a good thing to do."It might not be fair to say previous defensive coordinators were hamstrung by the Davis Doctrine. And it might be uncouth or even blasphemous to say there is a certain freedom in defensive play-calling now.So what about that Silver and Black elephant again? Defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan is center ring with it, flipping it some peanuts."We have a very aggressive d-coordinator," safety Mike Mitchell said. "He likes to get after it and apply pressure. When you look at the way our team is built, we have the athletes to play so much man and we have the biggest, fastest linebackers in the league, so why not send them? It puts pressure on the quarterback and we have the athletes to cover. I think it goes hand in hand."For years, teams knew how to scout the Raiders because they would play a certain base defense and little else. And while it drew derision in many corners in recent years, it also drew praise for sticking to the brashness of the whole, 'You know what we run, so beat us.'Now?"Last week you had Colt McCoy come up to us and say, 'Man, I thought you guys were going to play more man,'" Mitchell said of the Browns' signal caller. "It's good when the quarterback says that because we are known for so much man coverage. But when we can throw wrinkles with some of our fire zone and other things, it gives them different looks."They're not going to know what to expect. I honestly, truly believe we have the best athletes in the league. We have the capability to do everything our d-coordinator wants us to do. As long as we continue to mix up our looks, we'll give quarterbacks a lot of trouble."On the third play of the Cleveland game, safety Matt Giordano picked up the first sack of his seven-year career when he dropped McCoy for a 10-yard loss on third-and-nine. On a blitz."I look forward to it, whenever I get the chance to blitz," Giordano said. "I love blitzing."Especially when you have the freedom to do so, and it works.

Carr discusses contract negotiations with Raiders: 'These things take time'

Carr discusses contract negotiations with Raiders: 'These things take time'

Raiders general Reggie McKenzie plans to extend quarterback Derek Carr’s contract this offseason. That isn’t a new thing, something that has been in the works for some time. He re-affirmed that fact last week, citing his team’s commitment to work out a long-term deal likely the biggest in franchise history.

Carr was reportedly frustrated with the pace of contract talks after the NFL draft – they’re supposed to heat up this spring and summer – but said he believes a deal will get worked out before training camp begins.

That’s his deadline for an offseason deal, the point where he wants focus honed on football.

“I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and Mr. (Reggie) McKenzie will work it out,” Carr, a Fresno State alum, told the Fresno Bee. “I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players.

“I have complete faith it will get done before training camp. These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”

The sides have discussed parameters of a long-term deal, with greater specifics to be ironed out in the future. Carr has long said he wants to be a Raider his entire career. The Raiders want him as the public face of their franchise. A new deal is expected by all parties, a sentiment that has never wavered on either side.

Carr is scheduled to make a $977,519 in base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.

Raiders offseason program intensifies as OTA sessions begin

Raiders offseason program intensifies as OTA sessions begin

The Raiders offseason program is five weeks old. Players have lifted weights. They’ve improved cardiovascular shape. They’ve done drills in position groups and discussed schematics. They’ve added rookies to a group now 90 strong.

On Monday, they can finally put on helmets. They still can’t wear pads or have full contact, but the Raiders can play 11-on-11. Receivers will be covered. Quarterback Derek Carr will throw into traffic. Generally speaking, the competition cranks up a bit.

The NFL collective bargaining agreement has strict mandates regarding offseason activity, and a period formally called “Phase III” allows for more realistic on-field football work.

The Raiders will conduct 10 OTA sessions over the next three weeks. The media can watch three of them. Tuesday is the first, with another in each of the next two weeks. These sessions are technically voluntary, though the Raiders generally hover around perfect attendance. Head coach Jack Del Rio prefers his team be unified in the offseason. Players know it and show up.

There is a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15 which wraps the offseason program and starts a quiet period that extends until training camp begins in late July.

These OTAs offer an opportunity for new players to learn the system, for adjustments to be made and for chemistry to be built heading into a 2017 season where expectations are high.