The Raiders square off with the Browns on Sunday in front of their third straight sellout crowd at the O.co. While I’m sure that Overstock.com would love to say the name on the Coliseum is the reason for the sellouts, I’d like to point to more realistic things – like the organization being able to put out a product that has a good chance of being involved in the playoff race late in the season. Regardless of who is responsible, let’s take a gander at some of the storylines to watch in week six.
The Wimbley Pick
Kamerion Wimbley was impressive for the Raiders in 2010. The former first round pick of the Cleveland Browns had a nine sack season and in the process convinced the Raiders that he is the strongside linebacker they’ve been looking for. However, Wimbley could do no convincing in Cleveland. According to Craig Lyndall, who was kind enough to do our Thoughts From the Other Side this week, the Browns misused Wimbley in their scheme and asked him to drop into coverage even though he was never that type of player.
Now, Wimbley is able to be what he is in his new scheme and that has produced a multi-year lucrative contract for him and plenty of productive games for the Raiders. Wimbley couldn’t be happier. “The way that it went down was kind of a shock,” he said. “It was something that just happened, I was able to come out [to Oakland] and make the transition and I’m enjoying it out here and I love this program.”
It should be noted that the draft choice the Raiders used to get Wimbley from the Browns will be lining up across from him this Sunday – that being Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. Funny thing is that the Browns aren’t quite sure what they have in McCoy yet either. But at least it doesn’t appear they are using him wrong… yet.
Oakland D-Line vs. Browns O-Line
This could get really ugly and fast for the Cleveland Browns. If they fall behind in this game and have to rely on their passing attack, thereby allowing Raider defenders to pin their ears back, Colt McCoy could be in for a long day at the O.co. With Browns’ center Alex Mack most likely out for the game, the only sure bet on this offensive line is left tackle Joe Thomas. The other starters have yet to learn how to be consistent and are a large part of why the team has two losses this season.
Right up until the opener against the Bengals, Head Coach Pat Shurmur was not certain what would happen with the offensive line. Ultimately, they ended up going to two youngsters in the middle, rookie left guard Jason Pinkston and second-year right guard Shawn Lauvao. The youngsters have not proven themselves worthy of being NFL starters to this point, and with a back-up center in the game it could get really bad against a rotation of Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, John Henderson, and Desmond Bryant in the middle for the Raiders.
The Raiders D is already averaging 20 quarterback pressures per game this season. In 65 drop-backs under pressure, Colt McCoy has completed 29 passes and has thrown two of his three interceptions according to Profootballfocus.com. With that said, it looks like trouble on the horizon for the Browns' passing game.
Raiders against the run
The Raiders have been really good against the run this year when facing teams that want to run against them. The trouble has come when teams spread the field on them and then proceed to give it to their halfback. If you are looking to line your best nine blockers up against the best 11 Raiders' defenders, you will most likely lose that battle, but if you put your best five blockers against the Raiders' front seven you will win.
Perhaps the most concerning part of the equation in this game is Rolando McClain’s ankle. McClain has already been questioned for his lateral movement and it could be even more impeded in this game with a bad ankle. Nonetheless, the Raiders are certainly expecting a heavy dose of the Browns' running game, and if they intend to win they will have to shut it down and force McCoy to beat them. The Raiders are expecting such tactics from the Browns, which bodes well for the Raiders and is a bad omen for the Browns.
Curry – not Chicken
When the Seattle Seachickens traded Aaron Curry to the Raiders, they had every intention of Curry not working out for the Raiders either. But Head Coach Hue Jackson is unwilling to wait and see if that is the case, calling Curry his “starting WILL” after only one practice in a black uniform. Curry is up to the task also, stating that the end all be all of defense is tackling the guy that has the ball.
It’s going to be interesting to watch, that’s for sure. After a trade in 2009, Richard Seymour spent only a couple of days with the team before playing in a Monday Night Football opener against the San Diego Chargers. The veteran defensive end manufactured a monster performance, generating pressure against a Chargers team that was not fully prepared for him and allowed two sacks via Seymour.
This case is mildly different though because Curry is an outside linebacker, not a defensive lineman. The Raiders insist that the only thing he needs to learn is the language of their defense and once he gets that he’ll be yet another golden egg from the nest of other team’s wash-ups. All of that remains to be seen, and it probably won’t be a monster performance for Curry on Sunday. Still, it’s okay to be glad that he is excited about his newfound opportunity.
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