Raiders run defense not all it was cracked up to be

Thearon W. Henderson

The Raiders defense was feeling pretty good about themselves after three weeks of holding opposing running backs down. All that was undone in one game.

This week there were stories all over the place about the newfound Raider run defense. But I wasn't falling into that trap. Any praise from me wouldn't come until after this game against the Buccaneers. The Raiders showed me why I was taking a wait and see approach.

What they showed was a level of ineptitude with which we had become all too familiar during their near decade of double digit losses. They were well known for their poor run defense. This particular implosion was in epic fashion. Rookie running back Doug Martin's 251 rushing yards were good for tenth all-time and the best ever by a Buccaneer.

This performance surprises a lot of people. It surprises me as well. But it isn't a fluke or a blip. Think about what the Raiders have faced this season.

Week one the Chargers were without their starting running back, Ryan Mathews, week three the Steelers were without their starter, Rashard Mendenhall, week five they held down Michael Turner but has only run for over 100 yards once this season. The Jaguars lost Maurice Jones-Drew after one carry. The Chiefs only gave the ball to Jamaal Charles five times.

The other three games they have given up 172 yards to Reggie Bush, 112 yards to Willis McGahee, and now 251 yards to Doug Martin. This game may be worse than anyone expected but it is no fluke. This run defense is a serious issue.

Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly were facing two backup offensive guards in the game and were routinely handled on the block. Rolando McClain is supposed to be the run stopping linebacker for the Raiders and he continuously is out of position, misses tackles, and can't get off his blocks.

It won't get worse than this but don't expect things to get much better. Next week they face Ray Rice of the Ravens. I foresee some long turns on the oxygen for him next week.

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