On paper, the Oakland Raiders are more athletically gifted than the New England Patriots. If you peruse the roster and conduct an objective breakdown of the talent of each team, Oakland pulls ahead on skill. However, there remains one specific aspect of this game that should worry each and every single member of RaiderNation. Without a doubt, the New England Patriots own the greatest edge in the area of coaching. Unfortunately, the Raiders appear overmatched in this area.
Josh McDaniels runs the Patriots’ offense like a well-oiled machine. As a result, New England scores over 28 points per game (28.6) and calmly marches the ball down the field at will. Some will chime in and say that Tom Brady is the sole reason why. Granted, Brady is an all-time great quarterback. Yet, the offense hummed with Jimmy Garoppolo leading the charge. McDaniels’ innovation centers on the talent.
On the other hand, Todd Downing appears to stick to a rigid scheme instead of shaping the offense to its players. McDaniels uses various formations and personnel groupings to keep the defense off. On the other hand, Downing uses one basic thought: Avoid using Jamize Olawale at all costs. Why? Who knows? If McDaniels coached Olawale, he’d be a Pro Bowl talent right now. In a world of difference, a simple concept defines both. One coach’s flexibility helps while the stubbornness of another hinders progress.
As mentioned, the Raiders possess talented skill position players. How Todd Downing uses them remains the question. In a game of this magnitude, will Downing retreat and utilize a conservative approach? If so, expect to short passes. In contrast, look for McDaniels to spread the Raiders out and attack them vertically, which seems to work.
First, many undervalue Matt Patricia. While Bill Belichick is an outstanding defensive mind, Patricia brings spicy insight and scheme to the defensive construct. The pencil that rests on Patricia’s ear is not a prop. Patricia is an Xs and Os coach, a film junkie that analyzes film, searching for weaknesses. Patricia enters each game with a sound strategy. Patricia will adapt to any situation. For example, during the Patriots’ current five-game win streak, New England hasn’t allowed more than 17 points.
On the contrary, Ken Norton approaches his job with a more of a motivational tact. Critics proclaim that Norton is not the Xs and Os type, but more of the inspirational, speech maker. If you gander at his quotes when asked specific questions, that claim holds water.
The New England Patriots do not employ any defensive players, active for next week’s games that reside in Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin’s neighborhood. Yet, the players wholeheartedly buy in to Patricia’s scheme. Consequently, New England appears more prepared defensively,
Given these points, the Raiders need to play with unquestioned abandon. If they are to win this game, it cannot boil down to coordinators. Oakland will not prevail under those circumstances. Relying on sheer athleticism is the only way to win in Mexico.