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.

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”

Del Rio’s anxiety level up with trio of Raiders going extreme in New Zealand

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Twitter/@KOseven0

Del Rio’s anxiety level up with trio of Raiders going extreme in New Zealand

Raiders Pro Bowl left guard Kelechi Osemele, running back Taiwan Jones and safety Brynden Trawick are currently enjoying their offseason in New Zealand. 

But a few videos they posted going white-water rafting and bungee jumping left head coach Jack Del Rio a bit anxious. 

"Anxiety level went up a bit thinking of my BIG pro bowl LG on the rapids!!" Del Rio tweeted Monday. "Can't leave out Brynden or Taiwan either ... have fun and be safe"

Osemele has posted a handful of photos and videos from the trip, including one of a raft capsizing with the caption: "It got real out there!!! Category 4 Rapids #NewZealand." Another showed the 6-foot-5, 333-pounder doing a backflip off a bungee platform with the caption: "Just did a backflip off the highest swing in the WORLD!!!!!!! Crazy!!! #LivingLife"