Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. & Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing
When Oakland Raiders Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing, and Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., face the New England Patriots this Sunday, they'll be facing two very different groups. The Pats currently have the No. 1 offense in the league, as they're averaging 409.4 yards per game,while the defense is currently ranked last, allowing 408.3 yards per game. To discuss how they'd approach their opponent, Downing and Norton each met with media members to break down the week ahead.
Here are the quick hits from their press conference:
Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing
Downing spoke about how tight end Jared Cook has made an impact on the offense.
"I think there's certainly something to him finding that rhythm. We've tried to highlight him in the passing game matchup-wise throughout the course of the season. I think he's getting a little bit more comfortable building that chemistry with Derek [Carr] a little bit, understanding route stems and things of that nature. He's really doing a great job and he's been working hard all year so it's finally starting to pay off in the way we've anticipated. So, we're excited about that."
Stats don't tell the tale of the tape, and Downing is aware of that when it comes to the Patriots.
"I don't pay too much attention to the stats other than the situational stuff. Like you said, they've kept scoring down. They've done a nice job of buckling down as drives have extended a little bit. They've kind of dug their heels in a little bit and stopped people from getting in the end zone. They are certainly playing sound defense. You don't see a lot of free runners in their secondary. Their communication seems to be on point. We're going to have to be on the details of our assignments if we're going to sustain drives, move the chains and score points."
He talked about how the team is preparing for the higher altitude in Mexico City.
"We've done a couple of things from a line of scrimmage procedure standpoint. Things like that just with our experiences from last year coming into play, but without getting too game plan specific or reveling anything, we feel fortunate that we have that experience from last year to rely on."
**Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.
Norton discussed why it's essential the defense doesn't miss tackles against the Pats.
"Patriots do a really good job of underneath coverage. They have guys that catch and run really well. The backs, the tight ends, the matchups underneath, they catch and make people miss. They try to match up with your linebackers and safeties. They feel like their guys are pretty good. Tackling is something we've been really outstanding with all year but this last game against Miami we didn't do so well and it's kind of stands out, especially when it's something we've taken a lot of pride in. I really feel like our emphasis and what we do well matches up well with that they try to do."
He broke down what makes Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski such a talented player.
"You watch the film and he's big. He's usually bigger than everybody else so that kind of helps. He combines that with good talent and he wants the ball. He's the type of guy when you give him the ball or the ball comes near him, he's going to catch it. He's going to make plays. You combine the ability with the size with the attitude and the playmaking ability, also the durability with him being able to play hurt and the things he's been able to play through, you have the makings of a good football player."