The Oakland Raiders defense has played extremely well this season. Their next challenge will be Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense. The Raiders played one other offense this season to give them an idea of how fast the Eagles go and that was the Denver Broncos. This week, the challenge will be conditioning and communication against the increased pace.
“Yeah, we practice the no-huddle offense a lot over the last couple of days just so our guys get used to the fact that they’re on the ball pretty quick and being able to handle that communication process that we have to be able to handle,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “Our guys, really to this point, have done a really good job of that, but it’ll be a big factor in the game of our ability defensively to get the communication out that we need to get so that we’re all on the same page.”
With quarterback Nick Foles under center, the Eagles have run a significant amount of plays. In the three games Foles has started or come into, Philadelphia has run 65, 75, and 77 plays in those games. As a point of reference, the Raiders offense has run 55, 59, and 71 plays in their last three games. The Eagles under Kelly quickly get plays off to keep the defense from substituting, getting set, and getting their calls made.
Unlike most of the up-tempo schemes in the NFL, the Eagles rely heavily on their running game. They average 150.4 yards per game on the ground which is the second best in the league. The Raiders have played the run very well this season, allowing 89.9 yards per game, sixth best in the NFL. The scheme that Kelly has brought to the Eagles is about speed and getting the ball out quickly. They like to get their offensive weapons like running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver DeSean Jackson in space to make plays.
“It’s a good scheme,” Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “It’s designed to get playmakers in space, so the biggest thing for us defending it is one making sure we’ve got eleven guys on the same page and two, making sure there isn’t any space and if they get the ball to go get them very quickly using our mix of calls and coverages that we do.”
Tarver knows Kelly's offense well from his time at Stanford battling Oregon. The Raiders will rely on cornerback Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter and DJ Hayden to press the wide receivers and tackle well in space. Because of the fast tempo, Oakland pass rushers will need to have a rotation to keep fresh. The defense was able to get five sacks a week ago and that remains the standard of success for this defense. Getting pressure on Foles will disrupt the tempo and force him into mistakes.
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