The excuse that ‘it’s the preseason’ doesn’t fly when talking about the Raiders defense. They were among the worst defense in the league last season (26th), unable to stop the run or the pass.
The team’s issues on defense have shown up this preseason just as they did last season. In the first two games against the Cardinals and Rams, the opposing team’s first team offense has marched right down the field for a touchdown. They also gave up three scores in the first half of both games. Half of those scores came with the opposing team’s backup quarterback in the game.
Much of the issue has been the secondary, though it isn’t limited to them. The linebacker position and interior defensive line have shown very little any signs of life either.
If you think the Raiders defenders aren’t desperate to put together some semblance of a strong performance this preseason, you’re kidding yourself.
“We have to get better,” cornerback David Amerson said Thursday. “Definitely have to get better. We can’t allow guys to come in the opening drive and go right down the field and score. That’s not what we’re about at all. Like you said, it’s preseason and we know that. We know we have to improve so we can go into the regular season where we want to be. That’s what we’re looking forward to doing on Saturday.”
They face a tough test in Dallas with one of the NFL’s premiere offensive attacks led by Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, and the only offensive line in the league that can rival the Raiders.
It will be the longest the first team will be on the field thus far, and the last time before the season they see the field as a full defensive unit. The final preseason game will be all about individual performances of depth players and roster hopefuls.
The season starters are expected to play into the third quarter, many of whom a full three quarters. In the first two games, the first team defensive backs have seen the most time and I expect that to continue Saturday.
These guys absolutely need to find something positive to latch onto before these games count. The results may not count right now, but the performances certainly matter.