With the Raiders from OakTown coming into Mile HIgh on Monday, the new Orange Rush will be looking to shove a couple "Welcome Home" presents up the backside of Jason Campbell's britches. Well, and maybe in his ear hole. Their names are Von Doom, and their mission is simple... Take back this house.
Make no mistake about it, this defense will be defined by those two men, and it will be built around those men. If we're to take back our house.. it will be at the hands of those men.
Still, football is a team sport and everyone will have to do their part. The best approach to legally make murder on the grid iron is to create mismatches and exploit weakness. So with this week being what it is, and the Riaders being the enemy they are, I thought I'd flip you a few player names that I think we'll look to violate and take advantage of this week.
This kid was drafted with Oakland's first pick this year - #48 overall, 2nd round. (Btw, They didn't have a first round pick this year, and I think they've got just one pick in the first four or five rounds next year. Team management is still as stupid as ever.)
Getting back to the point, Stephen was the 2nd or 3rd ranked center prospect coming out of the draft, so he's certainly got potential. (We play the Raiders this week, not next year.) I think most assumed this guy was drafted to replace Satele at center. Instead, Satele remains Oakland's starting center and Stefen is a lock to start at LG.
Now to be quite honest with you, I have no idea how well this kid is playing so far, but I do know that even if he was playing badly, he'd probably not lose his starting position because there's very limited depth on the line in Oakland. The other thing I know is that he's a rookie interior lineman. That alone makes him a big target. Nothing else needs said here, just look for interior blitzes to come his way and for us throw stunts and tricks at him. Which brings me to the next guy...
LT Jared Veldheer - 6'8", 335lbs - 24 years old, 2nd year
The thought going into the 2010 draft was that this small school prospect was very raw and would need time to develop. Nevertheless, the Raiders drafted this physical specimen early in the third round and immediately started him at safety. Wait, pause. Rewind. He started at center. Still sounds pretty nuts though, no?
The beautiful minds over in Oak-Town named this 6-8" monster to the starting center position in training camp. I think the original plan was to have Michael Bush drop down on all fours in the backfield so that Campbell could use him as a ladder, and thereby see over Jared's monstrously tall head - not sure, though. Anyway, bright eyed Tom soon pulled the cable on that idea after just one week, moving Jared back to tackle. In week-seven, Veldheer supplanted Mario Henderson as the starting LT where he finished out the season.
Jared played like a rookie last year, as would be expected for any 3rd round pick that ends up as starting left tackle. He made mistakes all year but showed potential. He's reportedly 20 pounds heavier (335-ish) and has a terrific work ethic to continue his improvement. So he sounds like a good prospect, que no? Well maybe, but not on Monday.
See, Sometimes Elvis Dumervil's small stature comes at a great advantage, and that's never been more the case than it is right now. Jared The Beanstalk stands a full 6'8 while Dumervil is just 5'11. That's a mama-lotta leverage Jared's giving up to Doom. And in case you haven't heard it 241 times before, the battle in the trenches is all about leverage.
Now, normally we move Dumervil around a lot, but I think he'll probably stay home a little more often this week. I think the basic plan will be to have him run underneath Jared's legs each time Captain Checkdown drops back to pass. For Jared to beat Elvis on running downs, it doesn't get much easier for him there either. I think he'd essentially need a Masters Degree in the lost art of limbo. Well, I'm not even sure if that makes sense - since limbo has you bending backward - but whatever. You get the point. Jared's giving up 9" of leverage, he's inexperienced, and he's going to be isolated against Dumervil as often as possible.
A noteworthy key here is that the LG is a rookie and the LT is a 2nd year guy with just 11 starts under their belts. Not to mention, their center isn't exactly an all-pro either. That leaves the entire left side of the line in danger of getting punked against any team, let alone this team at MIle High, home of Von and Doom. They'll likely figure out quickly that a TE and/or RB will have to stay home on the left side on every pass down or else Jason is going out on a stretcher.
QB Jason Campbell - 6'5", 230lbs - 29 years old, 7th year
As with Jared Veldheer above, Captain Checkdown doesn't have to be terrible for him to be taken advantage of. The fact of the matter is that the entire Broncos game plan will revolve around the goal of putting the ball in this guy's hand - and daring him to throw it. The Broncos will win the game by just doing a very thorough job of VonDooming his eye socket and his ear hole, and by power slamming his whole sense of being right into the turf at every drop.
Campbell is master of the checkdown, and he'll be looking to do just that as a way of slowing the VonDoom phenmenon. His RBs are very dangerous in the screen game and his TE, Kevin Boss, will be his other release valve when the heat bares down. But - and it's a big but here - Zack Miller is no longer a hated man by as many, since he left the black hole during the offseason. And although Kevin Boss was brought in as his replacement, he all the sudden looks to have been injured in a recent practice. Word of the hour is that he's unlikely to play.
Now don't underestimate the importance of a Kevin Boss no-show on Monday. The Raiders are thin at TE, and without Boss, Capt Checkdown will essentially just have the RB option to go to. That makes it easier on our OLBs (a rookie and a backup), and it makes the pressures all that much more likely to turn into sacks and
LB Quentin Groves - 6'3", 265lbs - 27 years old, 4th year
Groves was traded to the Raiders from the Jags for a 5th rounder in 2010. He played in 15 games for the Raiders last year, starting in 12. As the starting WLB, Groves is easily the weakest link in the Oakland front-seven. Most Raider fans don't even support him. Raiders managment, aware of the problem, recently brought in ex-New England linebacker Tully Banta-Cain for a visit. No decision has yet been made, but either way, they'll not be able to replace Groves with Cain by Monday night.
As such, the Raiders will be stuck with Groves for a while longer, and Denver will look to capitalize on the favorable matchup. Groves is slow and gets burned in coverage, so this should be a fantastic way to use our shinny new toy, TE Julius Thomas. Look for some additional Two-TE sets with Denver looking to force this guy into coverage and exploit the mismatch.
* Oh, those girls at the top wearing Under Urmour and eye-black... yeah, that's supposed to be representative of the girls we had protecting our house last year. It's fine to admit it so long as treat it like that STD we got in college.. never again!!