In almost every loss the Raiders have had this season, it was the defense that let them down. They are second worst in the league in points given up and one of just three teams to average over 30 points given up per game.
There is no easy answer to the conundrum for the Raiders defense. Lately they have failed in every facet of the game. They couldn't stop the run against the Buccaneers and they couldn't stop the pass against the Ravens.
It isn't as simple as blitzing more often. That's part of what bit the Raiders in Baltimore. Every time they brought someone on a blitz, Flacco found the open man. It depends most upon not giving up the big play. And the way to keep from giving up the big play has always been getting pressure on the quarterback and maintaining coverage downfield.
Outside of blitzing, a team's pass rushers can't just suddenly become better. But we know in the past that they have performed well. Matt Shaughnessy has played well as has Lamarr Houston. It is hard for them to do it alone. There must be more than one or two pass rushing threats or they will key on that player or players either with a blocker out of the backfield or a double team.
Andre Carter comes in as the third down pass rusher and has gotten some pressure but it has been eliminated by either a run play or a screen pass in most cases. Again, he can't do it alone. If he gets pressure, a linebacker must guard against a screen or a run.
What it all comes down to is scheme and discipline. Blitzers and pass rushers need someone to have their back. They are saying "cover me, I'm going in" and no one is there guard their six. And the result is often six points for the opposition.
Somewhere along the way, the Raiders have lagged in that discipline. The big plays the past two games along with the penalties bear this out.
This won't be easy against the Saints. They have a lot of weapons. Not the least of which is tight end Jimmy Graham. He will have his own spy or perhaps more than one and even then it may not matter much. The best the Raiders can do is not give Drew Brees enough time to let Graham get past the linebackers and into the secondary.
There is no rest for this beleaguered Raiders defense. One week it was giving up 251 rushing yards, then it was giving up 55 points. And this week it's the best offense in the NFL. Talk about trial by fire. The hope is they come out stronger on the other side.
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