According to most reports, the Raiders worked primarily on blitz pickup and red zone passing during practice on Wednesday.
The Raiders ranked 29th in the league in red zone scoring in 2009 and scored on just 41.4% of their red zone possessions.
Red zone scoring is often time a predictor of playoff teams and four of the top five teams in red zone scoring qualified for the playoffs in 2009. The top five teams in 2009 were Arizona, Miami, Indianapolis, Minnesota and New Orleans.
The passing game behind JaMarcus Russell was especially weak in 2009, but the team only managed to put up 0.6 passing touchdowns per game, good (or not good) for last in the league. Again, four of the top five teams in passing touchdowns per game were playoff teams, New Orleans, Minnesota, Indianapolis, Green Bay and Houston.
Another factor to consider as a key to winning is the all important third down conversion percentage. It is also well known that blitzes are often used on third down.
Getting first downs and keeping a drive alive was a reoccurring theme during the Gruden years. Three of the top five teams in third down conversion percentage made the playoffs in 2009. The top teams were Miami, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Jacksonville and Minnesota. The Raiders ranked 30th in third down conversion percentage at 29.6%.
So while these practices aren’t mandatory, the Raiders are attempting to get the most of them by working on areas of significant weakness.
If you were wondering, the Raiders defense ranked 9th in red zone scoring percentage, 4th in passing touchdowns against and 7th in third down conversions against. Pretty good?
You could make a case that the Raiders were working on blitzing and not blitz pickup, but they may be a poor assumption considering the pad-free environment and the stats below.
The Raiders ranked 4th in the league in sack percentage at 7.8%, behind only Minnesota, Miami and Pittsburgh. In the final three games, the Raiders were the top team in the league with a sack percentage of 11.4%. If the Raiders can stop the run or put a few points on the board, the defense has the potential to be very good without added blitzing.
The Raiders did blitz more last season than in recent years. With Trevor Scott and Kamerion Wimbley at outside linebacker expect more of the same.
Decide for yourself if the Raider need to blitz more and keep this in mind, if the Raiders stop the run and score more points on offense, they may blitz more if only because their opponents will need to pass more.
For more interesting NFL stats go here: http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/