This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the in Week 3 of the regular season. To help preview this week's game, I reached out to Levi Damien from Silver and Black Pride and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: "Bill Musgrave is the Raiders' next offensive coordinator this year. Is there anything you can tell us about the type of offense he wants to run, specifically whether or not it would differ from what Cleveland saw in 2014?"
Levi: "Well, he said coming in that the offense was going to be based around the power running game. But thus far it's been based around the pass. A 3-1 ratio pass to run. In the opener, the offense looked very much like it did last year -- a LOT of short passes -- and the offense did absolutely nothing as a result. While he again put the game on Carr's arm last week, he tested the Ravens' secondary down the field a lot more and the offense blew up; putting 37 points on the board.
I still suspect he would 'like' to run the ball more when the match-up is right. Last season with Darren McFadden picking up 3.3 yards per carry, running the ball was never really a great option. Latavius Murray is averaging 4.2 yards per carry, so the run is a good option."
Chris: "Who is the Raiders' best offensive lineman, and which position on the line presents the biggest liability?"
Levi: "So far the best lineman has been left guard Gabe Jackson. He is an absolute monster in run blocking and the team likes to run behind him as often as possible. Whether that be sending Murray through the left guard gap or pulling Jackson to the right and running behind him there.
The biggest liability has been right tackle Austin Howard. He played at right guard last year, but the new staff moved him back to right tackle where he had played with the Jets the two seasons before coming to the Raiders. He had been beaten out by Menelik Watson for the starting job. Watson was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles so it's Howard's job now. He played well last week against a Ravens team without Terrell Suggs. We'll see if he can keep it going."
Chris: "Khalil Mack dominated the Browns in 2014 and easily looked like the most impressive player on defense. Through two games, though, the Raiders rank 32nd in the NFL in yards allowed. Which unit is the weakest on defense?"
Levi: "I remember that breakout performance by Mack and how Brian Hoyer had a lot of good things to say about him. It was also a game that was indicative of his 2014 season -- lots of pressures but no sacks. His 4.0 sacks came late last season so it was thought he had turned the corner and would come out from the start this season putting up sack numbers. That hasn't happened yet. The lack of pass rush and their being one of just two teams in the NFL with zero sacks on the season is the primary reason this team has the worst defense in the league through two games.
The weakest unit on the team was supposed to be the cornerbacks. Del Rio this week put a lot of the blame for the lack of sacks on poor coverage, which would also include linebackers, allowing the quarterbacks to get the ball out too quickly. The linebackers have been missing a LOT of tackles too. Add that both starting safeties are injured and pretty much it's been bad across the entire defense."
Chris: "The Raiders added Aldon Smith to their roster recently. How has he performed through two weeks, and has he lined up on a specific side?"
Levi: "He was signed two days before their season opener and played sparingly in that first game. He started week two and led the team in pressures. He usually lines up over left tackle, and since the Ravens were playing their backup left tackle last week, I expected a lot more from he and Mack whenever rushing from that side. He was not on a team for the month prior to the start of the season, so I expect his performance to improve each game."
Chris: "Tell us about somebody relatively unknown on the Raiders who could pop out with a nice game on Sunday and surprise Browns fans."
Levi: "Last year's seventh round pick, TJ Carrie has emerged as the best cornerback on this roster. He forced a fumble last week on the Ravens' first play of the game which set the Raiders up in scoring position to take an early 10-0 lead. He has given up just 5 catches on 12 targets this season which is top ten in the league lowest completion percentage."
Thanks again to Levi for taking the time to answer my questions.