Raiders vs colts
Photo Credit: AP

FSM Presents: Zo Huddle – Raiders vs Colts – Week 14 – Key Runnings Plays Lead To Changes On Defensive Staff


Just one week after a last second touchdown got the Las Vegas Raiders to fire New York Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the Silver and Black wound up relieving their own coaching leader of the defensive side on Sunday. Zo Huddle from Lorenzo J. Reyna breaks down three key runs that contributed to the abrupt coaching change.


Regardless of how your defense is structured, there are three words that the unit has got to accomplish on a weekly basis:

Stop. The. Run.


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Raiders Beat

The Raiders’ inability to do that in their 44-27 embarrassment against the Indianapolis Colts at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday led to their own firing of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, just one week after the Raiders sent Williams to the unemployment line.

On my end, I can think of three plays that will make defensive line coaches and defensive purists cringe at how the Raiders attacked the Colts’ running game. And it starts with coaching followed by the field execution.

Time to run Zo Huddle and break it down.


The over-pursuit


At the five-second mark of this video, defensive end Clelin Ferrell knifes through the right side of Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo. This puts Ferrell in the position of being squared up on running back Jonathan Taylor – and in prime positioning to swallow Taylor for a 5-yard loss.

Except, Ferrell doesn’t maintain his ground and resorts to reaching out with his left arm…culminating in Taylor breaking past three arm tackles, including Ferrell’s for the 13-yard gain.

This is a case of over-pursuing. Regardless if it’s a defensive end, defensive tackle, or a blitzing skill defender, bursting through the offensive tackle and drawing a one-on-one scenario between the defender and ball carrier should be the equivalent of a blood-thirsty coyote cornering a rabbit.

Except, in this case, the rabbit out-races the ‘yote and forces it to catch from behind.

The old rule for defenders: Never over-pursue and always contain. But that’s not the only play that led to Guenther’s demise as the Raiders defensive coordinator.


The Semi-Truck wide hole


With less than 7:40 left in the third quarter and facing a 2nd-and-9 at their own 38, the Colts turned to Taylor again, who only drew contact from a Raiders defender inside the 5-yard line.

How did a 2nd-and-9 become a 62-yard scoring scamper?

The biggest cue, I think, from this play was the pulling center. After Ryan Clark snaps the ball, he pulls and works his way to the right defensive end – helping seal the open lane with a double team and giving Taylor enough space where a Costco truck could probably fit through that open running lane.

Defensively, though, this falls on the linebackers on the field…particularly the inside ‘backer.


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Getty Images

The moment a center or guard pulls, it should click inside the inside linebacker’s skull that the play is going in the direction of that sprinting lineman. It should additionally be the brain alert to abort the original defensive call and fill the open hole immediately by following the move of the pulling lineman. Past inside linebacker greats like Ray Lewis and Luke Kuechly were adroit at snuffing out run plays by reading the linemen’s movement.

The Colts, however, put the Raiders in a position where the secondary had to chase down Taylor.

The Raiders had Nicholas Morrow play close to the trenches only to choose the wrong gap and chase Taylor from behind. Guenther looked like he called a ‘Mike’ blitz (blitzing the inside ‘backer) on that play, but the play-call unravels with the Colts widening their ground lane and gashing the Raiders on that TD run.


The wildcat


With under 9:30 left in the game, the Colts turned to the wildcat formation to inflate the lead to 14.

Here is the thing about the wildcat: It’s really an option play and designed run. All the formation does is trick defenders and defensive coaches with who has the football. The best way to defend against the wildcat is eye discipline and playing your gap assignment.

Both, though, were non-existent on that scoring play.

Nyheim Hynes, operating at quarterback, takes the direct snap. Hynes masterfully tucks his hands inside his stomach like he’s the one with the ball and draws in Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby by running inside.


Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: South Bend Tribune

But it’s Taylor who has it. And with no defensive end containment Taylor takes advantage of the opening and scored from 4-yards out.

Another key element on that play: Rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. launching Jonathan Abram into the end zone with his run block. Pittman goes offensive tackle on that play by locking his palms inside Abram’s No. 24 and eliminates him on the play.

Again, defending the wildcat is best when defenders use their eyes, field discipline, and instincts. Another way to attack the formation: Trust your safety or cornerback to blitz. But none of that happened, and it became the last touchdown Guenther’s unit would allow with him as defensive coordinator.


Post huddle


Moving forward, the Raiders will now turn to veteran defensive mind Rod Marinelli to turn around a defense that surrendered 212 rushing yards to the Colts. Furthermore, Marinelli will aim to revamp a defensive unit that has allowed more than 200 rushing yards in three games this season and has witnessed the Jets and Colts average more than six yards a carry in back-to-back weeks.

For a Raiders team still in pursuit of the playoffs, not stuffing the run will either lead to an early postseason exit or missing the playoffs entirely.


Make sure to come back to Franchise Sports Media next week for another edition of Zo Huddle where I break down the Raiders key plays of the game that was.


Zo Huddle           Zo Huddle         Zo Huddle           Zo Huddle           Zo Huddle           Zo Huddle           Zo Huddle           Zo Huddle           Zo Huddle           Zo Huddle           


Lorenzo J. Reyna – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: @LJ_Reyna


Join The Franchise on Social Media