In preparation for this weeks exciting game we wanted to spend some time with one of the writers from the Raiders site, Silver and Black Pride. Levi Damien was nice enough to answer a few of my questions and help me understand where the enemy is coming from.
Q1. Obviously the Raiders have had instability at the head coach position for nearly a decade, with seven coaches in ten seasons. As Broncos fans we obviously enjoyed Dennis Allen's time in Denver, but do Raiders fans feel Allen is the coach of the future?
A1. Some do but with the way the season has gone, the skeptics have come out in force. Raiders fans are used to the idea that a coach is fired if the team doesn’t win. But as my mom used to say, "they can get glad in the same shoes they got made in." Reggie McKenzie has taken the stance from the beginning that he won’t be acting in haste. Sure, there are changes that need to be made this offseason and likely to the staff. But that doesn’t mean sweeping changes and barring finishing the season on a nine game losing streak (which is very possible), I don’t see Dennis Allen being one of those changes.
Q2. With the loss of Michael Bush and injuries to the backfield, how have the Raiders tried to keep balance on offense?
A2. As a writer for the Broncos, you should know how they did it. They run the zone blocking scheme. They just plugged in the next guy. That next guy was fullback/H-back Marcel Reece. They even called up practice squad back Jeremy Stewart and gave him some carries. They each averaged over five yards per carry last week and Reece has had fantastic games despite the Raiders losing badly. That being said, the Raiders have not found balance but that is because they have played from behind so much that Carson Palmer has had to go to the air a lot.
Q3. The Raiders have a stout defensive line that's lead by standouts Lamarr Houston, Desmond Bryant, and Richard Seymour. How do you think they'll do against the Broncos offensive line and backup running backs?
A3. Well, first off, Richard Seymour will not be playing. He has been out for several weeks and will be out again this week. Desmond Bryant plays in his place. I also wouldn’t go as far as saying they are stout. They have underperformed much of the season. Houston is probably the best of the bunch. He plays like his hair is on fire and the Raiders could use about 21 other guys just like him. I expect he will get some pressure on Manning and make a few other plays as well. Don’t expect much from anyone else, though.
Q4. The Raiders linebackers have had some trouble this season, and with the release of Ronaldo McClain, do the Raiders have a plan to stop the Broncos tight ends Jacob Tamme (449 yards, 2 TD's) and Joel Dreessen (253 yards, 4 TD's)?
A4. I like the phrasing of this question – "do the Raiders have a plan." It is hard to say whether they have a plan. Defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver, talks like he has a plan but I’m not sure the players know what that plan is or how to execute it. Tight ends always have success against the Raiders. There always seems to be one left uncovered either from a blown coverage or sitting in a soft spot in the zone. The tight end coverage duties typically fall on the two outside linebacker, Philip Wheeler and Miles Burris, although in the zone, either of the safeties will take over the coverage at times.
Q5.When looking at the Broncos defense, what do you think the focus of the Raiders offensive gameplan will be?
A5. Keeping Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil out of the backfield. Raiders offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp, referred to the two of them as "ELITE pass rushers" He emphasized the word elite. He has great respect for their pass rushing abilities and I expect some extra blockers to be in place to help out the tackles.
Q6. Looking at your roster, who do you feel is Pro Bowl worthy?
A6. Sebastian Janikowski and Marcel Reece
Bonus Question: Who wins and why?
Broncos win. Why? Simple; Peyton Manning vs worst defense in the NFL (31.3 points per game)
Now let's keep it civil, I know this is a big rivalry, but no need to sink to a lower level of conduct.