After seeing their best player leave in free agency, rather than go out and sign a veteran in order to make up for the loss, the Oakland Raiders made some significant changes to the style of defense they play. The Raiders are notorious for playing Al Davis football. On offense, that means speedy, athletic players with lots of deep routes. On defense, that means man to man coverage with very little blitzes.
Last season, we saw the Al Davis offense take a back seat to a run first offense as the Raiders boasted the second best rushing game in the NFL. Now, as the Raiders start off this season without Asomugha, new defensive coordinator, Chuck Bresnahan, has made some big changes to the way the Raiders play defense as well.
Without a true shut down corner, and a serious lack of depth at the cornerback position, the Raiders played more zone coverage than they have in years. Trying to take advantage of their strength and depth at the safety position, zone coverage was used often and back up safeties Jerome Boyd and Matt Giordano saw a significant amount of playing time.
If the watching the Raiders play so much zone coverage wasn’t strange enough, Bresnahan also brought the blitz more than often in one game than the Raiders did in a hand full of games last season in an attempt to relieve the secondary of pressure. The Raiders defensive line did not have problems putting pressure on the quarterback, but despite that, the Raiders brought big time blitzes rather frequently, often resulting in Orton rushing a pass that landed no where near his intended receiver.
Many fans were worried about how the Raiders would deal with the loss of a big time player like Nnamdi Asomugha, and became even more concerned when the Raiders failed to bring in a veteran to solidify the cornerback unit. Thankfully, those fans underestimated the coaching of Chuck Bresnahan who did a great job of minimalizing the departure of Asomugha with good game planning.