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Raiders struggles covering the tight end rears its ugly head again

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Hey, remember early last season when the talk was about how the tight ends were killing the Raiders defense? It’s baa-aaack. The Falcons’ game plan had to include film study of the Raiders from early last season, because they gouged the Raiders all day using the tight ends.

“We spent a lot of the game in 13-personnel which is for us, one wide receiver, three tight ends, one running back,” said Matt Ryan.

“You try and find whatever is an advantage for you that week, and for us we felt like that was a good match-up for us.”

Julio Jones was still the top receiver for the Falcons; that’s to be expected from the All Pro receiver. But right behind him was Jacob Tamme with 5 catches for 75 yards and a TD, Austin Hooper with 3 catches for 84 yards, and Levine Toilolo with 2 catches for 21 yards.

That’s 10 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown to the tight ends. Not. Good.

“You saw what happened,” said Jack Del Rio. “I don’t think there were any physical mismatches out there. It was a matter of guys having their eyes where they’re supposed to be and knowing what the heck they’re doing.”

“Just breakdowns,” said Malcolm Smith. “Communication, errors, things that are easily fixable that hopefully we take the next step.”

The Tamme touchdown catch took the lead back for the Falcons late in the third quarter after the Raiders had gone up 14-13 early in the quarter. And their domination in those first three quarters only opened up other areas to allow the Falcons to go on two more long touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.

“That was fun,” said Tamme. “We got in. We had three tight ends on the field quite a bit today. Me, Hoop [Austin Hooper], and Levine [Toilolo] out there, and we were able to do some nice things.”

In case you need a refresher on the Raiders’ struggles against the tight end last season, here is what happened early last season:

Tyler Eifert had 9 catches for 102 yards in the season opener against the Bengals. Crockett Gilmore had 5 catches for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns week two against the Ravens. Gary Barnidge had 6 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown in week three against the Browns. Martellus Bennet had 11 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown for the Bears in week 4.

It wasn’t until week 5 against the Broncos that the Raiders were able to keep the tight end from gouging them. They used Neiron Ball as the designated tight end stopper then, but Ball is not available now. He’s on injured reserve. That’s not to say Ball is some kind of savior, because honestly I don’t think that tells nearly the whole story. But whatever the Raiders are currently attempting and/or who they are putting on the field is not working.