If you think the Raiders are sweeping their poor preseason defensive performances under the rug, you are sorely mistaken. They have presented a glaring red flag as this team approaches the start of the regular season.
Over the past two weeks, the Raiders first team defense has played a full half. For you math whizzes out there, that’s the equivalent of one full game.
In that full game of work, they have given up 176 yards and 3 touchdowns on 38 carries (4.6 yards per carry).
Last week, the main criticism was a lack of “effort and enthusiasm” as Sean Smith put it. This week, it seems to be the opposite criticism – trying too hard.
“Just guys trying to do too much, trying to make a play,” said Bruce Irvin. ”You know, if you play the defense right, the plays will come right to you. That is what we got to learn as a young team, continue to grow and continue to improve.”
The result was even worse this game than it was in week two against the Packers. The Titans ran for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21 carries (5.0 yards per carry).
Even with the ‘vanilla’ game plan, there is the matter of discipline that should show up regardless. And it just wasn’t there.
“We want to stop the run,” said Jack Del Rio. “We really haven’t stopped the run the way we expect to this year. Misfits continue to cause problems. We’ve gotta get that cleaned up with the season approaching. Obviously that’s a critical area that must be addressed and will continue to be addressed.”
“Just mis-aligned or mental errors. Some of those things where your eyes aren’t right and you’re just not where you’re supposed to be and the whole defense is counting on you. Those things really cause problems and we have to get those cleaned up.”
“I take it real personal. I don’t have a good alibi for it, alright, it bothers me. You can’t be a great defense doing that, so we have intentions, we’ve set our intentions. We’re not shying away from that, we’re not backing down from that, but it’s got to be a whole hell of a lot better than what I saw out there tonight.”
As the leader of the defense, Khalil Mack shares his head coach’s feeling about the issue on defense as well as the inability to just let it go and write it off as a preseason performance.
“Yeah, most definitely, misfits, consistency, you know, just staying consistent,” said Mack. “Those are the things you work on in the preseason. So, we get to see those things now for the future.”
“It definitely bothers you. Especially being a defensive guy. Being a leader on this defense. That’s stuff you don’t want to see. But at the same time, great learning experience right now and it’s gonna get us ready.”
With the reserves likely playing the entire final preseason game next week against the Seahawks, there’s a good chance, the next time we see Mack and the rest of the first team defense on the field will be the regular season opener in New Orleans.
These performances don’t instill a great deal of confidence in this defense heading into the season, giving them their top priority of areas to fix if they hope to be the caliber of team they are expected to be.