- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders are tied with Kansas City, Miami and Tampa Bay for the NFL lead in sacks, with nine.
That’s good news for an outfit that had just 25 all of last season. And Oakland is sharing the wealth, as seven different players have combined for the nine sacks.
It should also be noted, then, that five of the sacks have come courtesy of defensive backs, meaning the Raiders are not necessarily getting a regular push from their front four and are having to blitz frequently. But is that a bad thing?
“You’ve got to find ways to affect the quarterback,” said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. “Sometimes that comes from secondary pressure. Sometimes that comes with linebacker pressure. Sometimes that comes from your up-front guys.
“We’ll mix some things up; we’ll change some things up. We’re going to continue to look for different ways to affect the quarterback. It doesn’t always have to come from bringing extra rushers.”
For now, though, that’s exactly what the Raiders are doing with defensive coordinator Jason Tarver making the calls.
“Coach is putting us in great position to make plays and guys are going out and doing it when our number’s called,” said safety Brandian Ross, author of one sack. “It’s just showed our versatility, I think.”
Then there’s this: There’s no NFL quarterback more adept at sniffing out blitzes and making defenses pay than Oakland’s next opponent in Denver’s Peyton Manning.
“That’s why we have to do a great job of disguising,” said cornerback Tracy Porter, who as 1.5 sacks. “He’s the quote-unquote master of figuring out defenses. But at the end of the day, he’s still human. He can be confused. He can be tricked.
“He can’t read every single defense that we throw out there. He can read most of them, but he can’t read all of them. And as long as he can’t, those are the ones that we need to execute.”
Besides, Porter got Manning in Super Bowl XLIV, when the two were with New Orleans and Indianapolis, respectively, with his 74-yard pick-six to seal the game for the Saints.
And yet, Porter, who was teammates with Manning last season in Denver, was at a loss for words when asked to describe how the quarterback is able to decipher defenses as he approaches the line of scrimmage.
“You’re just watching a work of art, basically,” Porter said.
Allen was Porter’s position coach in New Orleans when the Saints beat Manning’s Colts.
“It’s hard to fool that guy; he’s seen a lot,” Allen said of Manning. “He does a great job in preparation. It’ll be hard to fool him. It’s going to come down to execution. We’re going to have to execute our jobs, and the team that executes the best will win the football game.”
3dEric D. Williams