Remember the dumb brother from the movie “Corky Romano”? Trying to order rum raisin nut, rocky road, then pistachio. The guy keeps telling him we only have the three flavors on the sign; Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry. That’s what Hue Jackson has served us this pre-season, a big cup of vanilla-flavored offense. Which is perfectly fine, he gets to see what the players can execute and at the same time doesn’t expose too much to other teams.
Insert one Chuck Bresnahan. The old/new defensive coordinator re-hired by Al Davis in the off-season. When he was initially brought in his role on the staff was not given, was he the linebackers coach? This leads one to believe Al had someone else in mind that he wasn’t able to land for the position of defensive coordinator. So after a week or so the Raiders quietly named Chuck the coordinator and everyone said “oh….”.
Bresnahan went into this preseason with a defense who just lost its biggest name, Nnamdi Asomugha. His goal, to develop the already in place young talent the Raiders had collected in the previous years. And to do it with a familiar style, one he was a part of for 5 years under the Gruden era. How’s that vanilla ice cream tasting? The Raiders wrapped up the pre-season 32nd in total defense. 30th against the pass, 28th against the run. Maybe most disturbing is that they finished 28th in sacks with 5. Yep, 5 sacks in four games.
This from a defensive pass rush that was supposed to be the strength of the defense. After watching the games a few times I don’t think I have ever witnessed worse line stunts. It’s almost as if Bresnahan designed the stunts to go through the same gaps. Now, this might be player execution, but let me remind you this is the same defensive line that finished last pre-season 3rd overall with 13 sacks. They also were 8th in total yards.
Bresnahan also hasn’t seemed to solve the Raiders problem of giving up the back-breaking 3rd and long conversion. Look at this sequence to open the Seahawks game: 1st play they line up in the base press man, Huff continues to show his more physical aggressive play and blows up the run off right. 2nd play its the same formation and Huff and Shaughnessy blow up the run off left. Everything’s looking good right? Finally, the Raiders D is starting to look normal. Then, Bresnahan blitzes Kamerion Wimbley, Rolando McClain and Stevie Brown. Wait, what? Stevie Brown? Result is a screen pass converts the 3rd and 15 for Seattle.
I watched that play at least 10 times, McClain was slow in shooting his gap, and Stevie Brown didn’t seem to notice how Leon Washington let him run by him. Stevie Brown made a name for himself last pre-season by having a ‘nose’ for the ball and being a playmaker in the defensive backfield. He hasn’t shown anything that warrants him being sent on a blitz. Not after Michael Huff had just blown up the first 2 plays.
Last year the Bresnahan lead defense of the Florida Tuskers lead the UFL in sacks. Impressive? Maybe, only problem is that league has rules against more than 6 guys rushing the passer and has to have 4 down lineman on all plays. Now it is just pre-season and Chuck might not be wanting to show anything to the league, but the lack of timely blitzing that has seemed to work for every other team so far is unsettling. More vanilla anyone?