Greg Olsen to Cause Matchup Nightmare
In their Mexico City showdown against the Houston Texans, the Raiders’ defense sat back and watched Texans tight ends C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin haul in a combined nine receptions for 114 yards, six of which going for first downs.
With Panthers veteran tight end Greg Olsen next in line to take on the Raiders’ defense, look for the Oakland to sit back and enjoy the show for a second consecutive week, and it’s still too early to rule out popcorn.
Olsen, a former first-round pick in the 2007 NFL draft, leads the team with 54 receptions for 745 yards and has added three touchdowns to the mix. The former Hurricane also leads the team with 38 first down receptions, tying for ninth in the NFL.
"“He’s smart. He’s fast,” Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said in reference to Olsen, per Raiders.com. “He runs really good routes. You always need a good guy throwing the ball and he’s got a really good quarterback, really good strong arm, that trusts him. They really have a good relationship together.”"
Norton Jr. must call on his two inside linebackers and rookie safety Karl Joseph to end Olsen’s relationship with Newton. The dynamic duo could still try to be good friends, but the Raiders shouldn’t stand for anything too serious.
Raiders veteran inside linebackers Malcolm Smith and Perry Riley Jr. have struggled significantly in coverage at times, so Norton Jr. must look to put the two in the best position to succeed given the importance of Olsen to Carolina’s offense.
Joseph, the Raiders’ first-round pick in this year’s draft, should look to contain Olsen in man coverage, but Olsen’s sheer experience should force Joseph into the student’s desk, as the former West Virginia product could return to school to learn from one of the best.
Holding Newton’s No. 1 target to a minimal impact is tough for even the best defenses in the NFL, so the Raiders shouldn’t set the bar too high. However, if Oakland can rally their efforts on third downs and in the red zone, Newton could cut ties with Olsen and start seeing other people.