The run defense is trending in the wrong direction as of late. In fact, three times in the last four weeks opposing teams have gashed the Raiders for over 130 yards.
Through the season’s first six weeks, the Raiders defense was allowing an average of 86 yards a game on the ground. But in the weeks since that number has grown to 135 yards a game. This is certainly not a recipe for success on defense.
With the emergence of the pass rush as of late, the defense could really become a force if they can get back to stopping the run like they were earlier in the season.
Punt Return Team
You hear coaches talk all the time of the importance of playing well in all three phases of the game. One area where the Raiders have room for improvement is in the return game, particularly on punt return.
That problem was exacerbated even further when the Raiders only sent out 10 men onto the field at one point against the Bengals, with Nicholas Morrow inexplicably forgetting to stay on the field and take his place on the unit
Dwayne Harris had been dealing with an ankle injury most of the year, so Trevor Davis has been handling return duties in his absence. This week, the Raiders signed Preston Brown and sent Harris to the IR.
Since Week 9, Davis has returned four punts while gaining just 27 yards (6.75 yards average), including one return in Week 11 for 0 yards. A boost from the return games will make life easier for the offense.
Joyner was one of the big offseason acquisitions for the Raiders and for the most part has been a disappointment. According to Sports Info Solutions tracking data, Joyner has been targeted 31 times in coverage and has allowed 22 completions. That’s a 71 percent completion percentage, which is the highest of his career.
Dealing with a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 10, Joyner was inactive against the Bengals. To compound matters, the defense didn’t miss a beat without him. Nevin Lawson stepped in and played in 90 percent of the snaps, and played well.