Raiders' New Defense Puttin' on the Blitz

Training camp under way

It's only training camp, and drawing conclusions from training camp is a little like drawing conclusions from the Barack Obama birth certificate you found once on the Internet.

But so far this training camp, man does new Raiders defensive coordinator John Marshall like to blitz.

In his daily Chronicle blog dispatch from camp, David White said that "New defensive coordinator John Marshall had his troops bring the blitz all day Monday." And it really pleases me to copy and paste White's observation that, "The defense got to the quarterback five times in six plays during team drills. The middle linebacker blitzed the most, with Kirk Morrison bringing it three times."

All this blitzing appears to be bringing results, and that's welcome news to anyone who enjoys seeing Philip Rivers horizontal and hallucinating little bluebirds flying around his head. But the old caveat applies that this is only training camp, and may or may not accurately predict the Raiders' regular season schemes.

Nnamdi is skeptical that this means a Raider blitzkrieg once the games begin. "Even in camps previously we were doing a lot of blitzing and doing multiple things defensively and then we got into games and we were pretty basic," Asomugha told the Examiner's Patrick Patterson. "So, it’s like a wait and see type of thing. We’ll wait until the preseason to start seeing what we’re going to be doing."

But John Marshall's blitz schemes are bringing out the best in some of the Raider defenders. Rookie Mike Mitchell, after a slow start, appears to be pretty much murdering guys who attempt to catch passes near him. Just Tuesday morning alone, David White's tweet-by-tweet account of early practice indicates Mitchell repeatedly prevented completions with his slobberknocking hits. Mitchell himself has not blitzed much, but the blitzes may be helping him disrupt plays. 

The blitzing may also be responsible for Darrius Heyward-Bey's early problems. Coverage of Heyward-Bey's camp thus far makes him out to be the worst disaster since the Hindenburg. But the guy is being covered by Nnamdi Asomugha, and his quarterback is being constantly blitzed. DHB may find his regular season game situations to actually be easier than what he's currently facing in Raider training camp.

That half-second by which the quarterback has to rush the throw, or that blitz pick-up confusion among running backs and linemen, can create opportunities for the defense to wreak havoc they could not otherwise wreak. Hope to see the Raiders' new defensive coordinator marshall more of these attacks once the games begin.  

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who dismisses any arguments that blitzing is overrated.

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