Big Play Opportunities vs. Raiders


The Oakland Raiders’ defense has been susceptible to the big play, particularly on the ground, all season long. In fact, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr’s defense surrenders 4.75 yards per run on 1st down. Most of the big play runs that Oakland surrenders occur along the edges. According to the National Football League Game Statistics and Information, the Oakland defensive unit are some of the worst run defenders outside.



The Bills’ rushing offense has gained 393 yards and 4 touchdowns running off left end and 387 yards and 6 touchdowns off right end so far this season. Hopefully a sign of what’s to come this week, the Raiders’ 26th ranked run defense gave up another big play last week to Carolina.

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Anthony Lynn has several types of plays that could force the Raiders talented edge defenders, Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, to not play as aggressively as they are notorious for playing.

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Whether the Bills want to run zone or gap runs this Sunday, Lynn’s playbook can accommodate.

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Buffalo also has the added dimension of QB designed runs off of counter trey. This play looks like counter trey, but it is actually a designed keeper with an ‘option’ tag.

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The Raiders’ defensive struggles to stop the run force Norton Jr. to play the run on early downs, which usually means a lot of single-high safety looks. This leaves opportunities to hit the big play down the field on early downs, which is why Oakland currently surrenders 7.8 yards per pass on 1st down.

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The Raiders have given up the 2nd most 20+ yard plays (44) and the most plays of 40 yards or more (13) through the air this season.

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A couple of the big plays surrendered by Oakland’s defense have been when they have been in those single-high looks, but also when offenses have attacked with bootlegs from trips formations.

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Reason being, according to Football Outsiders, the Raiders defense gives up the most yards per play off of play action (11.3) which is the worst in the league. When opposing offenses don’t use play action, Oakland’s defense only surrenders 6.5 yards per play. The difference of 4.8 yards per play is the most in the NFL.  

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As a result, the Bills should have a few opportunities to capitalize on play action.

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If Sammy Watkins is healthy enough, he could have a field day down the field.

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Tyrod will trust Sammy even more if that one-on-one matchup is against CB Sean Smith. Smith has allowed 29 receptions for 542 yards, 4 TDs this season, which is 18.7 yards per reception.

Smith vs. Watkins 2015

2015 matchup-7 targets, 5 recs, 125 yds, 2 TDs

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In the end, Buffalo has to rely on their run game to control the clock. When the Raiders were beat down by the Chiefs, Kansas City ran the ball 40 times for 183 yards and controlled the clock for over 36 minutes. The big play ability of LeSean McCoy, Tyrod Taylor, and Sammy Watkins in the run and pass games will continue to be the Bills’ philosophy in this week’s monumental matchup against the 9-2 Oakland Raiders.

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