Week 1 Mailbag: Oakland Raiders

Sep 11, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Willie Snead (83) makes a catch while defended by Oakland Raiders defensive back Sean Smith (21) in the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 11, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Willie Snead (83) makes a catch while defended by Oakland Raiders defensive back Sean Smith (21) in the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 of the JBB Mailbag, answering questions from Twitter about the Week 1 win over the New Orleans Saints, and also any questions looking ahead to home opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

Let’s get right into the questions.

Note: Some of the questions were duplicates or similar to other questions that had already been asked. If you don’t see your question specifically responded to, that is likely the reason why.

Let’s not hit the panic button just yet. Yes, the secondary allowed over 420 passing yards, but what seems to be lost in the euphoria of a gutsy road win is a gunslinger by the name of Drew Brees — he’s pretty good.

I found myself more impressed at the chemistry between Brees and his receivers, and less concerned with the long-term success of Sean Smith and the secondary.

With that being said, I understand the collective fright, as we saw $40 million trailing in the dust of Brandin Cooks routinely. And it’s no secret who lies ahead this coming Sunday for Smith and the secondary: All-Pro Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones.

But tall, big-bodied receivers like Jones are exactly the reason Reggie and co. brought Smith, and his 6’3” frame, to Oakland. Look for #21 to bounce back and prove he’s worth every M of that contract versus the Falcons passing attack.

Karl Joseph’s lack of defensive snaps (0), in my opinion, was a mixture of still familiarizing himself with the playbook — and the responsibility of the safety in defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s scheme; but most notably, fellow safety Keith McGill’s performance. Though not perfect, individually, McGill was sound and efficient.

Already named the Week 2 starter, opposite Reggie Nelson, it will be intriguing to monitor how McGill’s continued emergence as a dependable cover safety, and open-field tackler, factors into Joseph’s snap count in the coming weeks.

I like Bruce Irvin like I like my mornings: rushing. Irvin found himself lost in translation, and coverage, at times against the Saints. When the Raiders signed Irvin, we all envisioned a lethal, undeniable combo of “Mack and Irvin, off the edges.” To get the maximum production out of Irvin, Coach Del Rio and Norton are going to have to put Irvin’s hand in the dirt, and let him go. That’s what Bruce Irvin does — go.

Let Irvin’s strip-sack of Drew Brees in the first quarter of last Sunday’s game serve as a testament to what he is capable of on any given down when rushing the quarterback.

I look at this situation in a different light, with somewhat of a trickle-up mentality. The success of the secondary will be predicated on the front seven’s ability to disrupt the quarterback. KNJ will need to be aggressive, essentially living — but, potentially dying — by the blitz. Needless to say this can be argued to be true in every scheme, though it proves especially valid in KNJ’s.

I believe a significant adjustment, moving forward, will be KNJ routinely applying more pressure with the front seven, which will benefit the ball hawkish tendencies of both Sean Smith and David Amerson, as routine, effective pressure up front ultimately compliments their instinctive and physical play.

Here’s one: Matt Ryan.

The Falcons offensive line features two young, ascending and towering tackles, in Jake Matthews (6’5”) and Ryan Schraeder (6’7”), who anchor the pass protection. But I believe their height will, particularly, work against them against Khalil Mack and the Raiders edge rushers.

I expect the agility of Mack and Irvin, paired with the power of our inside pass rushers, to make Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s trip to Oakland excellently uncomfortable.

That’ll do it for this week’s edition of the Mailbag. Thank you for all of the questions, and we look forward to continuing this series as the season goes on.

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