ALAMEDA – Here’s the big question I’ve been asked about the Raiders’ defense repeatedly:
Why doesn’t defensive coordinator Rob Ryan blitz more?
Here’s the answer from Ryan himself:
“We have four great defensive linemen, so you can send everybody you want but, right now, one thing you guys all know, on third-and-3 to 10, we're the No. 1 defense in the NFL. So, you can send anybody you want, but when you’ve got four great rushers you, generally, like to send them, let them do their job and let our pass defense, which is usually one of the best in the league, go to work.”
That’s pretty much what I figured, but felt obligated to ask since it’s one of the questions about the defense I always get.
Other tidbits from Ryan:
He doesn’t believe Derrick Burgess is at 100 percent because of his calf injury, but said he’s played great lately. He added 80 percent of Burgess is better than most players.
Terdell Sands played his best game against the Bears because he bent his knees. When the 6-foot-7 Sands plays low and with leverage, it’s hard for anyone to stop him.
As Lane Kiffin said on Monday, he showed why the Raiders paid him all that money in the offseason ($4 million guaranteed). The Raiders just want to see more of that consistently.
Finally, on the run defense, Ryan said it’s not just a matter to tackling better. He said defensive linemen have to control their gaps and hold up blockers to allow the linebackers to do their jobs.
With Kirk Morrison, Thomas Howard and Robert Thomas, the Raiders have one of the more athletic trios in the NFL (my opinion, not Ryan’s).
But they are no good if the big guys don’t occupy the offensive linemen.
Stay low, Terdell.