Raiders blitz package
Coming from Cinncinnati where Guenther was part of the staff that popularized the Double A Mug blitz package, many fans were excited to see the blitzes that he would draw up for the Raiders defense. 2018 was a disappointing year rushing the QB however and it seemed Guenther was using a blitz package that was too outdated to work effectively.
2019 was a slight improvement, although it took almost half of the season to see Guenther try modern NFL blitzes.
One of the biggest areas where Guenther grew as a play caller was his use of simulated pressures. “Sims” or “creepers” are pressure packages where non-traditional rushers like linebackers or defensive backs rush the passer while a defensive linemen or two will drop into coverage.
Simulated pressures typically only use 4 rushers, so while it creates the same chaos of a blitz, the defense doesn’t lose a man in coverage. The Raiders were by far the most effective when running these relatively “safe” blitzes.
The pass coverage behind the blitz however is a work in progress, and something Guenther really needs to figure out. His favorite call behind a blitz is a single high defense where the defensive backs are in man coverage and whoever is dropping underneath (linebacker or defensive lineman) jumps the routes of the nearest receiver.
Too often this strategy failed and when pressure didn’t get home, receivers ran free across the middle of the field. The coverage in the back-end will need to be revamped this off-season.
The Raiders defense took several steps forward in 2019 but it still wasn’t enough. Paul Guenther and company will need to get even more creative in 2020 in order to stop the high flying passing attacks across the NFL.
The continued development of 2019 draft picks, Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell, Trayvon Mullen, and Jonathan Abram will be key to seeing the defense turn into one of the better units in the NFL. Adding a linebacker or two who can be viable in coverage will also help.