DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to Create Matchup Nightmare
In addition to their inability to cover the tight end position, the Raiders have been unable to contain opposing running backs from making a significant impact both on the ground and through the air.
The Raiders have allowed opposing offenses to rush for 113.5 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry, according to NFL.com. Also, Oakland has allowed opposing ball carriers to bring in seven receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown.
With veteran running back DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry next on the schedule, we can expect a similar result.
Murray has carried the ball 25 times for 131 yards (5.2 YPC) and caught 12 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games with Tennessee.
Because Murray is such a threat on all three downs, Henry has become accustomed to a limited role within the Titans’ offense, but his downhill, aggressive style will wear down the Raiders’ young, inexperienced defense. Having to account for a bruising back like Henry will force Norton Jr. to bring in a heavier front seven to avoid letting the former Alabama back from falling for five to six yards on every carry.
On the other hand, Murray will call for a much more athletic linebacker or safety, for his ability to create early separation on his routes out of the backfield will tear the Raiders’ defense apart if they are unable to matchup accordingly.
If Tennessee’s running game gets going, it will only benefit second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota’s ability to work out of the play action and find Walker coming open in the flat or over the middle.
A one-dimensional Titans offense will keep Oakland in this game, but if Mariota and company can force Norton Jr. to respect both the run and the pass, the Raiders will be in trouble.