In the past two games, the Raiders defense has looked about as passive as is humanly possible. Drew Brees and Jay Cutler had days to throw and the running backs had pastures through which to romp. Well, the Raiders would like you to know, they have a lot more flavors in store than the vanilla they have fed opposing teams this preseason.
"We want to get it out there that we can rush the passer but at the same time it's preseason," said Lamarr Houston. "[The defense] is very vanilla and the offenses are very vanilla with their running and how they're throwing the ball. Right now you can't really tell how much better we've gotten as a defensive line. Soon, in the weeks to come, you'll be able to see it."
Dennis Allen echoed this statement.
"Yeah, we've been fairly vanilla in what we've done, really on both sides of the ball in the preseason," said Allen. "We did game plan a little bit more for Chicago but we still have a lot of things that we have in our back pocket that we haven't done."
One would only hope the Raiders defense didn't show their true potential against the Bears because if they did, they are potentially the worst defense in the NFL. It isn't a stretch to say such a thing because they were at or near the bottom in yards and points allowed through the first three quarters of last season.
They were suddenly one of the better defenses in the NFL over the final four games last season but much of that defense is gone and we have yet to see a glimmer of the sudden pass rush ability this team had in that final quarter to the season.
Lamarr Houston says we should pay no mind to these past couple preseason games when judging how good this defense is going to be.
"I believe we're a better defense," said Houston. "This last game we came out flat, we didn't play up to our standards, but I'm 100% sure we're a better defense than we were before.
"Everything we do is leading us to be excited. So much progression from May until now. It's tremendous how we got guys this off-season and we're all able to get on one page and all have the same message and the same goal as a defense. These guys here that Reggie and DA brought in all have done a great job with putting their nose in their books and know what they need to do to help this defense get better."
The funny thing about these words is they sound very much like Richard Seymour sounded last preseason when he said the Raiders had the potential to be a top 10 defense. It was an outlandish statement that became downright laughable halfway through the season. Then again, coming from Seymour, it was rather ironic considering the defense didn't improve until he was sidelined with injury.
There are still a couple pieces from that resurgent Raiders defense that remain - Lamarr Houston chief among them. The rest is a mystery. And the Raiders want you to know you haven't cracked this thriller and they aren't about to spoil it by giving away the plot in the preseason. Mystery may be one of their few great assets at this point. Or is it?