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Raiders defensive backs, offensive line must step it up

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While Matt Schaub has taken his share of criticism, his abilities won't matter if Oakland can't block or defend the pass.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

"The Raiders signed up for a season's worth of Matt Schaub. Now they have to live with it."

That's the opening line of NFL.com's article from the weekend entitled, "Raiders face reality check with Schaub, Carr," and if I watched the same game Marc Sessler did, I'm not sure where he gets his thesis from.

Schaub finished Friday's game 8/13 for 87 yards and an interception (one that even Sessler acknowledged wasn't his fault). Of the 5 incompletions, I challenge anyone to find me one where you could put all of the blame on him for.

Instead, I'd put most of the blame on the five (or six) guys up front trying to block for Schaub. It seemed like numerous times throughout the first two quarters, Schaub would drop back only to find defensive linemen bearing down on him before his receivers had completed their routes.

The problems went beyond that, though.

There was also the unit's inability to block in the run game too — with Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew combining for just 39 yards on 14 carries. With all of those third-and-longs, it's no wonder the receivers were slow to complete their routes.

On defense, the results unfortunately weren't much better.

While the defensive backfield has been an emphasis of the front office two straight off-seasons, it appears as if little has changed. First-round pick DJ Hayden is still MIA, and the second round of free-agent fill-ins doesn't appear to be much of an improvement over the first.

While the Raiders held Reggie Bush and Joique Bell to just 14 yards on 6 carries, Matt Stafford was torching the defensive backfield for 88 yards on 9/10 passing (and it's not like he was fitting passes into tight spaces). I mean, why run the ball when you're completing 90-percent of your passes?

This year, Oakland brought in a pair of San Francisco corners in Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rogers, in addition to the drafting of Keith McGill and Jonathan Dowling. Those four were expected to team with Tyvon Branch, Charles Woodson and DJ Hayden to give the newly built defensive line the time they needed to rush the passer.

Of those seven, only McGill, Dowling and Branch have really played well — with even Woodson making a couple costly miscues against Detroit.

In a passing league, that's simply not going to get it done.

Of course, it's mid-August and we've still got lots of time before the season starts and so the news isn't all bad in Oakland. The key now is identifying the problem and giving these two units time to gel (something they desperately need with all of the new faces).

The talent is there, the experience is there — now, it's just time to wait and see. After all, the 2014 season is counting on them.