Oakland Raiders: Five thoughts on the win over Cleveland

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Sep 27, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack (52) forces a fumble by Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) in a NFL game at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Browns 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4. Stick With the Blitz

Through the first two weeks of the season, the decision by Del Rio and Norton Jr. to lightly use the blitz (or in the case of the Bengals game, to not use it at all) was a point of concern as well as debate. A Raiders team that loaded up on outside pass rushing through the draft and free agency, signing Aldon Smith days before the start of the year to further bolster the presence of a pass rush, not getting to the quarterback caused plenty of chatter as to what the problem was during the two game homestand.

As we learned on Sunday in Cleveland, it looks like the Raiders may have been strategically waiting for the right quarterback matchup to send the pressure as the Oakland defense blitzed often to great success against Josh McCown. Ray Armstrong surprisingly getting the first sack of the season for the Raiders before Khalil Mack joined the party as Norton Jr. and Del Rio decided that Week 3 was the week to start sending the house at the opposing quarterback in a move that paid big dividends for the defense.

The decision to blitz also helped the Raiders avoid a late-game collapse as rookie Neiron Ball’s first career sack stalled the Browns final drive before Charles Woodson’s interception. Ball blitzing and getting to McCown taking away the momentum from a Cleveland offense that was awfully close to driving 98 yards to force overtime after the Raiders offense gave the Browns the ball back late.

Likely facing Jimmy Clausen in Week 4 (if Jay Culter doesn’t return early for the Bears), the Raiders will have a chance to once again rattle a low level veteran passer with pressure if they so choose. As we learned on Sunday, the blitz is still something the Raiders should use if they want to improve upon their still sometimes struggling defense over the course of the season. With a poor secondary, quarterback pressure is going to be key to stopping the passing attack and the blitzing of a deep group of outside linebackers might just be the key to answering some of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.’s problems in that department.

Next: Week 3 Thoughts: Looking Ahead