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Scout’s Notebook: Defensive Coaches Adjust On the Run

Posted Nov 29, 2013


Some thoughts from the film room at Valley Ranch

For Monte Kiffin and the defensive staff, it was an interesting first half of football against the Raiders but to their credit, they were able to adjust in the second half with better pressure from their front seven and tighter man coverage, that didn't allow the Raiders any room to operate like they had in the first half. 

I want to take a look back in the first half and what were the issues that faced this defense after for three series, were able to not only handle the Raiders running game but get a turnover as well. 

What transpired after those early stops in this game had to be a concern for Kiffin and the staff because things were going well with the run fits and how the coverage was being played. Matt McGloin is not known as a great passer and his receivers will not be confused with Calvin Johnson, but they sure played that way.  What has to bother Kiffin, were those chunk plays that the Raiders were able to convert.

It all started with the scored tied and a 20 yard pass to Rod Streater. The Raiders line up in a twins formation to the right with Streater outside Andre Holmes. The way that Kiffin decides to play it is with his "Big Dime".  Webb, Wilcox and Carr are all matched up with the two Raiders receivers. At the snap, Webb blitzes from the slot, which leaves Carr and Wilcox in coverage. Streater is trailing Holmes up the field, then breaks to his right away from Webb, who is now in coverage. In the pocket, Carter has blitzed and is on the arm of McGloin as he lets the pass fly to the outside. Streater manages to catch the ball against his chest, with his left knee on the ground before he slides out of bounds. On the coverage, Wlicox wasn't even close.  

Now facing a 3rd - 5 from their own 48, the Raiders line up in "11" personnel with the tight end, Mychal Rivera in line on the left side, Kiffin stays in his "Big Dime" and has Jeff Heath line up over the top of Rivera. At the snap, Kiffin against brings pressure with Carter. Heath is keeping outside leverage on Rivera but he swims him and breaks to his left. Heath tries to fight back and adjust but he is unable to do it. McGloin throws the ball to the outside as Heath makes a dive for it but misses. Rivera is able to run away and into the secondary until Church is able to rally and make the tackle but not before he gains 22 yards.

Same drive, Raiders have now worked the ball to the Cowboys 29 and face a 3rd and 9. The Raiders stay in "11" while the Cowboys are once again in dime. Brandon Carr is lined up to the defensive left, across from Holmes. At the snap, McGloin is look at Holmes the entire way. Who tries to shake Carr with a little move but Carr is not buying it. As Holmes works up the field, he sees the the ball is going to be short, but Carr never turns around to find it. Holmes goes vertical to snatch the ball as Carr adjust late. Holmes comes down with the ball and Carr can do nothing but make the tackle on the 10. 

After a running play gets them nowhere and a flag on Andre Gurode, sets them back five yards.  McGloin again goes to work on Carr with Holmes. This time, Carr is in press coverage across from Holmes. At the snap, Holmes shakes Carr to the outside, right.  Carr is in decent shape, begins to hand fight with Holmes and knocks him off balance for a bit. Holmes sees that the ball is short again and is able to adjust, where Carr doesn't get his head around quick enough. Holmes leaps for the ball with Carr behind Holmes and now in poor position to do anything about it. Nice adjusting catch the puts the Raiders on the one yard line and scoring on the next play to put them up 14 - 7. 

The Raiders were able to add another touchdown before half with similar results from what we had seen in the previous drive. Holmes runs a slant on Carr on 3rd - 9 but the play should have been defensed better if Church who was showing a blitz look, doesn't bail out to far outside and stays inside on the coverage, he is right in the throwing lane. Instead he works to far to wide and Holmes goes right behind him.  What was bad about the play other than Church's technique is that he sees the route that Holmes is running and still over shoots the play. 

Despite all the things that had gone wrong for this defense for a stretch there in the 2nd quarter, the offense finally woke up and rallied for a touchdown right before half to make it a 21 - 14 game with an entire half to play. In the 2nd half it was a much different story, the pressure from the front seven improved and Holmes, Streater and Rivera didn't have the space that they had in the first half. The Raiders had two drives in the half where they had six yards or less for the entire drive and Brandon Carr who struggled in the first half, managed to make a key interception when the Raiders started a drive near midfield. Give this defense some credit for how they managed to turn things around after a bit of a rough start.

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