ALAMEDA On the Browns' third play from scrimmage last Sunday, quarterback Colt McCoy dropped back on third-and-nine from his 40-yard line and found Raiders safety Matt Giordano right in his face.
The Raiders had dropped their defensive ends into shallow coverage and brought tackles Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour, along with linebacker Rolando McClain and safety Tyvon Branch, on the rush.
While those four occupied six blockers, Giordano, who had started from the other side of midfield and crept forward anticipating the snap, came up the middle untouched for his first career sack.
"I was just trying to be patient, and I got the sack," Giordano said Thursday. "I look forward to it, whenever I get the chance to blitz. I love blitzing."
Suddenly, so do the Raiders.
Oakland's defense has blitzed 57 times in its past two games, or 28.5 times per game, according to statistics from STATS LLC. Compare that with the first four games of the season, in which they blitzed a total of 34 times, or 8.5 times per game.
Coach Hue Jackson said that the aggressiveness is "something I truly believe in I think you have to get after people."
"I think we can be a great pressure team," Jackson said. "We still are a man (to-man coverage) team. We play a little zone every now and then. But I want to mix it up. I don't want to play the same thing all the time."
And there has been success. Opposing offenses were averaging 9.6 yards per play when the Raiders blitzed through the first four games, according to STATS LLC. In their past two games, against Houston and Cleveland, that number dropped to 3.4 yards per play.
"I think we're just realizing who we are and what our strengths are," Giordano said. "We have great corners who can play man-to-man, and we have a great frontline that can create havoc, and we have guys that know how to blitz. You put that all together and you have a good pressure defense."
The Raiders have long preferred sticking with man-to-man pass coverage and attempting to create pressure with their front seven. Now, it seems, their safeties are getting more involved in pressuring the quarterback, and the defense is showing zone blitzes both of which have confused opposing offenses, said safety Mike Mitchell.
That may be a key this week against Kansas City and quarterback Matt Cassel, who in his past two games has passed for 260 and 257 yards in wins over Minnesota and Indianapolis, respectively.
Cassel didn't throw an interception in those games after being picked off five times in his first three games, all losses.
"Last week you had Colt McCoy come up to us and say, 'Man, I thought you guys were going to play more man,' " Mitchell said. "We have the capability to do everything our D-coordinator wants us to do. As long as we continue to mix up our looks, we'll give quarterbacks a lot of trouble."