clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Know Your Enemy: Oakland Raiders

New, comments

As dirty as this is going to make you feel, as much as this might pain you, it's time to take one of the twice a year trips down the Black Hole. Let's just get through this.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After managing to fit a season's worth of heartbreak into two games, the Chargers have a chance to atone to some degree for the past two weeks with the archrival Oakland Raiders in town.

Will they? Who knows

Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Jack Del Rio (2-3 w/ Oakland, 70-74 Overall)

Offensive Coordinator: Bill Musgrave

Defensive Coordinator: Ken Norton, Jr.

Del Rio was the longtime head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, holding the position from 2003-2011. During his tenure, the Jaguars posted a record of 68-71, made the playoffs twice and had three winning seasons. Prior to his reign in Jacksonville, Del Rio served as an assistant strength coach and linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints (1997-1998), a linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens (1999-2001), and as the Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator (2002). After leaving the Jaguars, Del Rio joined John Fox's staff in Denver and served as the Broncos defensive coordinator for three seasons. Del Rio, a third round pick out of USC, was a linebacker in the NFL for 11 seasons from 1985-1996, and played for five different teams during that span.

Like Del Rio, Musgrave has been a NFL coach since 1997, getting his start with the Raiders as a quarterbacks coach. A season later he joined the Eagles as offensive coordinator, but held the position for just one season. For the majority of his NFL coaching career, Musgrave served as either a quarterbacks coach (holding that position with the Raiders, Panthers, University of Virginia, Jaguars, Redskins, Falcons, and Eagles) or an offensive coordinator (Eagles, Panthers, University of Virginia, Jaguars, and Vikings) before joining Del Rio's staff this season. Musgrave previously worked with Del Rio in Jacksonville as the team's offensive coordinator from 2003-2004. Musgrave played quarterback in the NFL from 1991-1996 and later a comeback attempt in 1998, and played for four different teams.

Norton was most notably the linebackers coach for USC under Pete Carroll during the Trojans run of dominance from 2004-2009. He joined Carroll in Seattle in 2010 under the same title and held that spot from that time until 2014, before joining Del Rio's staff this year. Like Del Rio and Musgrave, Norton played in the NFL, doing so for 12 years. He was a second round pick out of UCLA for the Dallas Cowboys in 1988 and played there until 1993 before joining the 49ers the following year. He stayed in San Francisco for the remainder of his playing career before retiring in 2000.

Last Week's Recap: Bye Week

Must've been nice! The Raiders will have two full weeks to prep for Sunday's game.

Key Players: Offense

QB Derek Carr, RB Latavius Murray, FB Marcel Reece, WR Amari Cooper, WR Michael Crabtree

Second-year trigger man Derek Carr has built off a strong rookie showing thus far, completing better than 63 percent of his passes, while throwing for 234.2 yards per game and a touchdown/interception ratio of 8:3. Carr has a live arm and good mobility and looks to have the makings of a franchise quarterback.

With long-time disappointment Darren McFadden finally out of town, Murray has assumed the role of the Raiders bellcow back. The third-year back has rushed for 336 yards on 80 carries, while no other Raider has attempted more than 8 rushes. The former Central Florida running back is a bruiser, listed at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, which certainly doesn't bode well for a Chargers team that, outside of Denzel Perryman, largely doesn't know how to properly tackle. Fullback Marcel Reece is one of the better receiving threats at his position, possessing above average speed, hands, and athleticism for a fullback. Reece currently ranks fourth on the team in receptions, third in yards, and leads the the team in touchdowns with three.

A major reason for Carr's improvement is a much-improved group of receivers, headlined by the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Amari Cooper. The Alabama product already ranks as one of the more polished receivers in the league, as he is polished route runner with outstanding hands. While he doesn't have blazing speed, Cooper is quite capable of beating defenders downfield and making defenses pay after the catch. Cooper's emergence surprises no one. Essentially everyone leading up to the draft concluded he was the most pro-ready player available. What is surprising is the resurgence of Crabtree, who's career appeared left for dead in San Francisco. As the relative success of Stevie Johnson in San Diego may attest, perhaps the problem in San Francisco wasn't the wide receivers. Crabtree trails Cooper by just one for the team lead in receptions, and is on pace for a 1,000-yard season.

Key Players: Defense

LB Khalil Mack, LB Malcolm Smith, S Charles Woodson

Linebacker Malcolm Smith appears to have been a quality free agent signing as the former Seattle Seahawk currently leads the Raiders in tackles through his first five appearances with Oakland. The former Super Bowl MVP is a quick, speedy linebacker who can cover sideline to sideline.

While Smith has been a solid piece of the Raiders front seven, Mack is the headliner. It's troubling that Oakland's first round picks aren't just no longer busts, but actually really freaking good at football. Mack is freakishly athletic and is a disruptive force at the line of scrimmage because of his first step quickness and power. Thank goodness the Chargers are getting healthier along the offensive line as San Diego might need to devote an extra one to the linebacker just to prevent Mack from wreaking havoc.

The fact that Charles Woodson is still playing at such a high level at a position that not only features some of the best athletes in the league, but often goes one-on-one against such players, is nothing short of remarkable. He's 39 years old and looks better than guys that are just older than half his age. Woodson has recorded interceptions in each of the last three games, including two interception of Peyton Manning two weeks ago, and has tallied 26 tackles thus far, good for third on the team. Like any player his age, Woodson is going to rely on his intelligence and experience to make up for the gap in athleticism and speed that age has cost him, which is apparently less than one would expect.