Why Raiders Fans should not hit the panic button yet even after another preseason loss.
Let’s start off by saying this is still the preseason. However, this will not be acceptable to most Raiders fans. Why? Because they heard this same excuse last year and it took seven weeks into the regular season before the defense started playing at an acceptable level. Some fans refuse to believe even that.
I am not here to offer excuses. I am here to provide you reason.
First, let’s analyze the basic scheme the Oakland Raiders used against the Los Angeles Rams. For most of the night, the Raiders used a “Single High” (Cover 1) defense. Now, this is an aggressive defense that puts a single safety in a zone read situation. The rest of the defense plays in either man, zone, or combination of the two. The Raiders played almost exclusively man underneath. They also did not substitute or shift to counter what the Rams offense was doing; this is by design in the preseason.
Why play like that you ask? Simple. The Raiders want to put their players in single match-ups to grade their performance, while at the same time giving nothing away on scheme or strategy. While Raiders fans might not like seeing individual players get exposed, or numerical advantage line play not being adjusted for, it is necessary for the above reasons. Preseason is not about wins or losses. It is about evaluating the talent you have.
But the communication issues…
Yes, the communication issues, as well as, the individual execution was painful to watch as a fan. The team appeared to regress from even last week versus an offense that fans were expecting to be mediocre at best.
Let us be clear. First, the Rams offense is better than expectations. Jared Goff was precise in his throws in a single read vanilla setting. Cooper Kupp is a legitimate slot receiver that could become the next Julian Edelman or Cole Beasley. T.J. Carrie was overmatched all night because, by design, he was not getting any help.
However, that does not explain the blown coverage on Kupp’s touchdown. Communication broke down there, and execution broke down. Such breakdowns happened a few times during the first half of play. It appeared the Raiders line, especially the middle, was getting out leveraged. It also appeared that the linebackers were not in the right position at times. To a degree, this is all accurate; but only to a degree. However, last week Marquel Lee was wearing the Green Dot. That means he had a mic and ear piece for relaying the play calls, and to put people into position. Against the Rams, Cory James had the Green Dot.
Such a change could show that the Raiders are not as comfortable with Marquel Lee right now, or that Assistant Defensive Head Coach John Pagano wants to get an idea of how well James can handle it in “game time” situations. Either way Coach Pagano got much tape to work with after this game.
Still not giving you the warm and fuzzy?
Remember something Raider Nation; we have not yet seen Gareon Conley or Obi Melifonwu who were the Raiders’ 2017 1st, and 2nd round draft picks. Everything we have seen is correctable. Coach Pagano was brought in to eliminate the communication issue, and so far he has said it is coming along. However, they are practicing for the Tennessee Titans game, not the Rams, or the Dallas Cowboys coming up. The Titans.
Also, remember last year the Raiders defense was the worst in franchise history for the first six weeks. Their record was 4 and 2 in those games. Once Perry Riley was up to speed the Raiders defense was ranked 11th from week 7 to week 17. It is entirely possible that the Raiders “Green Dot” player is still not even on the team.
If that is not enough, then remember the Raiders offense. It very well could be the best Raiders fans have ever seen. Even running a “single read” vanilla scheme versus the Rams, it dominated. Michael Crabtree broke ankles, Amari Cooper made an insane catch, and the offensive line did not miss a beat without Donald Penn.
Ultimately Raiders fans should be concerned about the defense, but should not be in panic mode yet one bit. The Raiders are a championship-caliber team, trust the process and trust in that. By the time the Raiders are getting into playoff mode, the defense will be right as rain, barring any major injuries.