Currently, the Oakland Raiders surrenders the 13th most yards and the 20th most points per game. This week the Silver and Black offense will struggle even more than it already has without Derek Carr under center.
However, they’re facing a Baltimore Ravens defense that is No. 30 in yards and points per game. Either way, Oakland will need their defense to stay especially stingy without Carr’s explosive playmaking ability. Here is what the Raiders should expect from the Ravens and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
Mornhinweg is in his second year as Raven’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coaching after taking over the duties in Week 6 of last season. He’s credited with helping Joe Flacco surpass 4,000 passing yards, Dennis Pitta catching 86 passes and Mike Wallace registering 1,017 receiving yards last season.
Previously, Mornhinweg was the offensive coordinator for the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles. From 2001-02, he was the head coach of the Detroit Lions. His first NFL coaching job came in Green Bay when he was the quarterback coach for the Packers from 1995-96, after he spent various seasons in the coaching ranks. The 22-year coaching veteran is credited for working with Pro Bowl QBs Jeff Garcia, Steve Young, Mike Vick, Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre over his coaching career.
Last season, Baltimore surprisingly became a passing team behind Mornhinweg play-calling. There was supposed to be a re dedication to the running game after Baltimore let go of Marc Trestman for running an unbalanced offense that struggled scoring, per Fox Sports. However, Flacco set franchise records for passing yards and Baltimore looked unfamiliar as a pass-heavy team.
This season, the offense is centered on the running game. Despite the rotating backfield of Terrance West, Alex Collins and Buck Allen, Baltimore is No. 9 in yards per rush and total yards. The backfield lacks a feature back but they are shaping out roles for the RBs. Collins is a slasher, West is the power runner and Allen is the receiving threat. You could see the three-headed backs as strength because fresh runners can wear a defense down as the game goes on. Allen should see 3rd down snaps, West should get goal line packages and Collins should be the starter despite two fumbles in three games (including one in last week’s 82 rushing yard performance).
Ultimately, Mornhinweg’s roots to Philadelphia and San Francisco tell us that he will use some concepts of the West Coast system. Oakland’s defensive backs will again have to be on their toes as Baltimore WRs Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman all having vertical speed to catch a deep pass. The Raiders have seen Flacco use that vertical pass the past two seasons. Flacco completed a 52-yard pass in last year’s 298 yard performance.
Baltimore should also use their backs to catch some passes. Fullback Kyle Juszcyk burned Oakland for 56 yards and 6 catches. Juszcyk left for the 49ers so Allen should fill his role in the backfield passing game. TE Ben Watson is one of the better graded players at his position by Pro Football Focus standards so he should also see some targets in this matchup. Fellow TE Nick Boyle has nine catches for the season and he should get some catches this week too as Baltimore utilizes two tight end sets.
The Ravens biggest weakness this season is the passing game and that extends to QB Joe Flacco. He’s been sacked nine times and thrown six interceptions to four touchdowns. Some of this falls on the Ravens’ shuffle of the offensive line due to injuries. Oakland needs to exploit guards James Hurst and
Matt Skura who are both graded poorly by PFF. The Raiders once again need some push from their defensive tackles that have been solid to mediocre this year.
Additionally, the Raiders will again face their former right tackle. This time Austin Howard comes to town and he is a top-10 graded tackle by PFF’s standards. Still, Khalil Mack should find ways to own Howard in one-on-one pass rush situations.
If the Silver and Black can create pressure on Flacco, they can prevent him from hitting on deep passes that could swing the game in the Ravens favor on the road. Moreover, Flacco is a noted gunslinger who will give defensive backs opportunities to create turnovers.
Speaking of turnovers, the Raiders must look to strip the ball. Last season, Bruce Irvin caused a strip fumble that swung the game in their favor. As previously mentioned, Collins has some fumbling issues so Oakland may need another fumble in this game.
In order to win the game, the Raiders defense is going to need to step up and make some plays. Baltimore and Mornhinweg will try to wear them down but it is up to the Silver and Black to make third and fourth down stops like they did late last week. Added, Oakland is going to need to take some chances and create turnovers. The more turnovers the Raiders create, the more opportunities the offense and E.J. Manuel get to score.