Earlier we looked at the peaks, valleys, and pits on the Oakland Raiders offense, for the defense, however, the lines were a bit less clear.
Young players like Gareon Conley and Maurice Hurst got their first taste of game-changing plays, but the team as a whole gave up 42 points and 200 yards on the ground. Let’s take a closer look at the Silver and Black defensive unit’s performance in Week 4.
Takeaways, takeaways, takeaways.
If the defense will give up yardage then they will also have to take the ball away, or at least pounce on it when it’s exposed. We may make fun of Reggie Nelson, and for good reason, but he has a knack for being in the right place to come up with a timely turnover. He almost forced two with his goal line punch out on Carlos Hyde. If Arden Key can get a little bit more pressure off the weak side edge, expect more affected throws and potentially a few more strip sacks.
Setting the edge and gap assignment in football is the absolute minimum requirement to play solid run defense. The Raiders have a penchant for botching these basic principles and giving up big runs at the worst time.
Each of their four games has been marred by running backs, who should have been nailed for a loss, hitting a gap that a defender took himself out of for a big gain. Once a front seven starts to give up these big runs, the whole defense becomes susceptible to play-action passes, which slow down an already inept pass rush. Something has to give here.
Linebackers can completely disappear on this defense and there really isn’t a solution on the roster. Marquel Lee had himself a pretty good game, and it’s clear Derrick Johnson is at the end, but otherwise, the cupboard is pretty bare. That isn’t to say Tahir Whitehead is without talent, but he is clearly a two-down linebacker and Emmanuel Lamur can’t get on the field. At this point, the Raiders expect Marcus Gilchrist to serve as an auxiliary linebacker, which helps the coverage but exposes the rushing defense.