Breaking Down Rolando McClain’s Performance from Monday Night

It’s Rolando McClain’s third season in the NFL and many believed it could be his last in Oakland. McClain was arrested last year, and he hasn’t played like a middle linebacker that was drafted with the eighth overall pick.

Among the excuses made for McClain were that he played injured, he was miscast as a 4-3 middle linebacker and he was a poor fit in the Raiders' man-to-man, no-blitz defensive scheme. As it turns out, some of those excuses could actually be legitimate. The Oakland Raiders defense played well against Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers, and McClain was one of the key reasons.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, McClain hurt his ankle in the fourth quarter of Monday night's game (via Paul Gutierrez, CSN Bay Area). If the Raiders are to limit Reggie Bush on Sunday, they will need McClain.

One thing the Raiders have done with McClain is lightened his coverage responsibilities. Coverage was one of McClain’s weaknesses and he excelled at blitzing and to a lesser extent run support. The Raiders emphasized his strengths on Monday night.


Play No. 1—Blitz

This was the lone sack of Rivers on the first defensive drive. The key to this play was the rush of McClain making Rivers uncomfortable from his blind side.

The right guard is going to leave McClain for running back Ronnie Brown and try to block the stunting Matt Shaughnessy. A well-known saying in the NFL is “backers on backs equals sacks,” and that is the case here.

Brown whiffs on the block of McClain and has a pretty clean line to get to Rivers.

Rivers has a window to throw, but he doesn’t have anyone open. Coverage was good enough that Rivers is going to have to step up in the pocket to avoid being sacked by McClain.

Shaughnessy disengages and gets the sack of Rivers, but he doesn&r...

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