By Julie Dixon // @ABroncoNole
Believe it or not, I’m super nice to most people and try to do the right thing, which is why I’m glad the Raiders are kind of good again. They let me release my inner she-devil. It’s like The Purge, only twice a year. So what are you hoping happens to Oakland? I’m hoping cornerback Aqib Talib completely neutralizes wide receiver Michael Crabtree so he doesn’t get a single carry.
This is an AFC West division game between two long-time rivals, and both teams are 2-1 with losses last week against teams many thought they should have beaten. This game could have serious implications on any playoff run either franchise hopes to see. I expect it to be nasty and dirty, and reffing could be a factor.
On defense, my key is forcing quarterback Derek Carr to throw. Bizarre, but he’s looked rusty since returning. Plus, his receivers need some new sticky gloves or something, because they stink. I think he knows his guys are 50/50 and facing a Denver No Fly Zone (on a revenge mission), so he may be easy to rattle.
Also, rush and blitz the hell out of him. He’s playing scared, use it. Linebacker Von Miller and defensive end Derek Wolfe are some scary dudes. Trust our DBs to mop up if he can burn them.
I’ll tell you something else. Oakland is one of the worst teams at caving when they feel beaten. That’s on head coach Jack “JDR” Del Rio (whom I like as a person, he’s a great guy). Last season, when Carr got hurt and they played us, that defense just dialed it in. They knew they had no chance in the playoffs. When JDR was the defensive coordinator in Denver, we saw the same thing when they thought quarterback Peyton Manning was too hurt to go into New England and beat them. It’s a pattern. So, if we score early on offense or defense, it should be an easy win.
On defense, Oakland can’t stop the run and their secondary is poor. They made Washington’s quarterback Kirk Cousins look like a world-beater. Quarterback Trevor Siemian should be able to do whatever he wants, provided he stands up in the pocket. I know it’s shocking that I’m bringing this up again, but for three weeks in a row, he’s been getting worse, not better. His rating under pressure last week was, 2.8, but that pressure came from drifting past the tackles. He’d be better just throwing it in the dirt or being Peyton and self-sack.
While I’m sure we’ll double-team defensive end Khalil Mack, DE Mario Edwards, Jr. is no slouch. Offensive tackle Menelik Watson has faced both Mack and Edwards in practices many times. Watson and Edwards were teammates for a year at Florida State University, then they were teammates for three years in Oakland.
With that said, I’d go 12 personnel using both tight ends Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman. Not only will they give Siemian extra protection, and hopefully ease his pocket yips, they can be good targets in the short, fast game.
However, they ought to send wide receiver Demaryius Thomas on a 15 yd fade route on the first play and have Trevor try to hit him in stride. I seriously don’t like Oakland’s cornerbacks. Plus, I think Thomas has a lingering injury and he will be most fresh early in the game. We need to have a good rotation of run to intermediate throws until one doesn’t work.
With Oakland’s porous offensive line, our defensive backs should have a monster game. Siemian threw 40 passes last week. I’ve said before that 30 passes should be the limit. Trevor can’t carry this team, he needs a run game. Against Oakland, 25 passes would be good, unless we can pass at will because the guys are wide open like they were against Dallas.
If the line can’t hold up, then Siemian should do what he does best: short, quick passes and remove the edge guys from the equation; because that’s all Oakland has.
I don’t see how we lose this game unless Trevor Siemian throws the ball right at the defense. Maybe I should retract that, I said that last week on my site, or maybe it was with Mary Pesarchick for the Bills; I forget which. So I will change that to: unless the team plays sloppy. The home crowd noise will be a serious factor and should help negate any errors since they’ve been really loud this season.
Chat Broncos with Julie on Twitter @ABroncoNole