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Three-and-out: Bucky Brooks' observations from the Raiders' Week 16 win

The Raiders' 20-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs might have shocked the football world, but astute observers have watched this team steadily improve since the middle of the season. The division win brought the Raiders closer to a .500 record, keeping them in play as a playoff contender.

Given some time to assess the game tape, here are some thoughts and observations from a former NFL player and scout.

AP sets the tone

Great teams take on the head coach's personality, particularly in big games. Pierce set the tone for the week when he demanded more "violence" and "physicality" from the Silver and Black. The team heeded the message with a gritty performance against the Chiefs that featured a mix of big hits and textbook wrap-up takedowns.

Not to be outdone, the offensive line pushed the Chiefs around in the game's waning moments when everyone in Arrowhead Stadium knew the Raiders were running between the tackles.

With Zamir White finishing runs with extreme violence and physicality, the Raiders followed through on Pierce's desire to turn the divisional battle into a street fight on the grass.

Patrick Graham's perfect plan neutralizes Patrick Mahomes and Co.

Patrick Graham has played a significant role in the defensive unit's success by providing the players with a straightforward game plan that enables each defender to play "fast and free" between the lines. Moreover, the simplified game plans allow defenders to focus on running to the ball with reckless abandon and execute fundamentally sound tackles in the open field.

Against the Chiefs, the Raiders used a few basic zone coverages complemented by a four-man rush with an occasional twist and stunt with outstanding success. The zone-heavy plan enabled the defenders to keep their eyes on the quarterback and react quickly to underneath throws in their area. Considering how the Chiefs wanted to utilize the short passing game like a rushing attack with bubble screens, crossing routes and quick tosses turning into big plays if the pass-catcher could break a tackle or make the initial defender miss, the decision to play "eyes" coverage allowed the Raiders to anticipate throws and get multiple defenders to the ball as Mahomes started his windup.

In addition, the zone-based approach allowed defenders to contain Mahomes on impromptu scrambles. With defenders' eyes affixed to No. 15 instead of locked onto their assigned receivers with their back to the quarterback, the Raiders could limit the two-time MVP to just 53 rushing yards without surrendering a deep ball over the top of the defense.

A disciplined pass rush creating chaos with Maxx Crosby and Malcolm Koonce looping, angling and stunting all over the front meant the Raiders were able to disrupt the Chiefs' pass protection schemes with a creative pass rush plan.

As the Raiders make a late-season push to creep above .500, the brilliant execution of complementary pass rush and coverage plan should make Graham smile when he reviews the game film and play-calling notes in the offseason.

Jack Jones is the man for the job

The Raiders' late-season addition has upgraded a defensive backfield in need of playmakers. Jones' instincts, awareness and ball skills made him a prized high school recruit and an intriguing draft prospect in the 2022 class.

Those traits have shown up since Jones cracked the rotation as a nickel defender/outside corner for the Raiders. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder displays outstanding footwork, turns and transitions in coverage while also flashing the diagnostic skills and situational awareness to aggressively jump routes in his area.

In back-to-back weeks, Jones' combination of instincts, intelligence and technique has produced spectacular pick-sixes showcasing his playmaker skills. From jumping the bubble screen against the Chargers to picking off the hinge route against the Chiefs, Jones' aggressiveness has resulted in a series of game-changing performances that have created a buzz around the league.

As the Raiders build with an eye toward the future, Jones' stellar play should put him squarely in the team's longterm plans.

View the best photos from the Raiders' Week 16 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

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