Raiders pass defense lacking in critical areas

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

It has become apparent the Raiders have a major problem in defending the pass. They currently sit at 28th in the league in yards allowed per game. Contributing to that low rank is their ranking in sacks and interceptions-- Dead last.

The Raiders are tied with only the Detroit Lions in interceptions. That being a zero. A big fat goose egg. In the one game the Raiders won this season, against the Steelers in week three, they forced two fumbles. But no interceptions. Those turnovers, or as Dennis Allen calls them "Takeaways", played a big role in getting that win. But the lack of pass defense made it a close one.

The fault can't all go on the secondary and their lack of interceptions. They have been decimated by injuries. Some of the fault lies in the lack of a pass rush.

The Raiders have just three sacks in four games this season. That is tied for the worst in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Lions, Jaguars, and Raiders each have one win on the season. That is not a coincidence.

The defensive line for the Raiders is getting almost no push. Leading the Raiders in pressures is linebacker Philip Wheeler with three. The team leader in sacks is Matt Shaughnessy with just 1.5. Then Seymour has 1.0 sack and Dave Tollefson has the other half a sack. That's not going to get it done.

The two teams in the Super Bowl last season, the Patriots and Giants, were both among the worst defenses in the NFL last season in terms of yards per game given up. What this tells us is that while teams can get by giving up yards on defense, they can't survive getting no pressure on the quarterback and no turnovers.

Jason Tarver has been preaching "bend but don't break" but the Raiders defense has been broken more than any other team in the NFL. Another category in which they are dead last is stopping teams on third down. They allow a first down 53.3% of the time (32 of 60).

The Raiders have had some tough opponents at the quarterback position. Among them are three Pro Bowlers in Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning. They are about to face another Pro Bowl quarterback in Matt Ryan.

The team added veteran Andre Carter to the team in the hopes of adding some pass rush but it is hard to say how much a 15-year vet coming off a major injury will help solve the problems. The secondary remains unchanged with the starters being Michael Huff and Pat Lee.

It appears the only solution to the pass rush is for Tarver to get more creative. Or perhaps less creative. Blitzing more often could be one of the more simple options. The only injured player who may help in that area is Aaron Curry. He won't return to practice until next week and there is no way of knowing if he will be healthy enough to play yet.

The secondary might just have to wait until Shawntae Spencer is healthy and Ron Bartell comes off partial season IR. Spencer won't be available this week and Bartell won't return until after week eight.

What this spells is trouble against the Falcons and their top seven ranked pass offense. Without any scheme or playcalling changes this week, we can expect to see Matt Ryan sitting back in the pocket with plenty of time to find Roddy White and Julio Jones all day.

This would be the perfect week to get that first interception. A couple of sacks would help too. At least bring the sack average up to one per game.

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