The Oakland Raiders defense has put together back to back solid performances after getting torched by the Philadelphia Eagles. Now they look to slow down a middle of the road Tennessee Titans offense. On paper this is a very good match-up for the Raiders, but they will need to find success with quarterback pressure, stuffing the run and forcing turnovers to take over the game.
The recipe for the Oakland defense is consistent pressure on the quarterback. Head coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver love to bring pressure. It has served them very well this season with 27 sacks and countless more hurries. Defensive end Lamarr Houston is the key along the defensive line. He leads the team with five sacks and has disrupted offenses all season. In the team's four wins this year, they have accounted for 11 sacks. Once the pressure gets to quarterbacks, they are more prone to make mistakes and the Raiders can capitalized with turnovers.
Pressure has been a key to the success, but the Raiders run defense is terrific. The reason the Raiders can bring creative blitzes is because they shut down opponent's running games. In their four wins, the Raiders have not allowed any team to rush for 100 yards. They kept the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, and Jacksonville Jaguars to less than 40 yards as a team.
The reason the Raiders have the sixth best run defense in the league, allowing only 97.6 yards per game, is their rebuilt linebacking corps. Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett are first and second on the team in tackles with 68 and 67 respectively. Burnett has eight tackles for loss himself. That group has done wonders for the Raiders stopping the run game.
Linebackes work in unison with the defensive line when it comes to stopping the run. The defensive line has played a big part with Houston and defensive tackle Vance Walker combining for 10 tackles for loss. Pat Sims has used his large frame to occupy offensive linemen. The unit as a whole has gotten penetration and taken on blockers. That allows the linebacker the freedom and space to make plays on the runners.
When the Tennessee Titans come to Oakland on Sunday, the Raiders will employ the same defensive plan. They want to shut down running back Chris Johnson and the Titans running game which averages 112.3 yards per game. If they can get that accomplished, that will allow Houston and the rest of the defensive line to get after back-up quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. It will also allow Tarver and Allen to dial up their blitz and give the team a better opportunity to force turnovers.
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