Friday, October 24, 2008

Raiders D - Attack Dogs Wanted

The strength of the Raiders team going into the 2008 season was suppose to be the defensive unit. The opening day roster was comprised of proven veteran players (DE Burgess; DT Warren; DT Kelly; MLB Morrison; WLB Howard; CB Asomugha), young players with talent (DE Richardson; FS Huff), and some key, high priced free agents (SS Wilson, CB Hall). The defensive coaching staff has had continuity and stability. Defensive Coordinator (Ryan) and the majority of his staff have been with the club since 2004.

It was also expected that the Raiders offensive unit was going to struggle to produce on a consistent basis in 2008. Even with a proven rushing attack established in 2007, there was the realization that QB Russell would be a work in progress. The current WR corps is not dynamic by any measure. Walker hasn't produced the type of numbers associated with a high priced, #1 WR. Curry is more suited as a #3 slot WR. Lelie was signed a few days prior to the season opener. Schilens is a late round draft choice who is still learning his craft. Higgins is a 2nd year player who received very few reps in 2007. The best target for Russell, 2nd year TE Miller, has been the focus of opponent's game plans.

With the offensive unit struggling to score points, execute in the red zone, establish a dynamic passing attack and offensive balance, it was even more important for the defense to take the lead role. The defensive unit has not achieved a level of consistency required to climb the competitive ranks. This lack of consistency is evident from quarter to quarter and game to game. There have been times when the D has played exceptionally well for stretches of the game but ran out of gas in the deciding 4th quarter. There have also been times where DC Ryan took his foot off the opponent's throat resulting in two 4th quarter collapses (Buffalo, San Diego).

When the defensive unit has played a spirited, aggressive brand of football for an entire game, the team has won 2 of 6 games. In the 4 Raider losses, the D has given up 31.7 points per game. In the victories (23 to 8 vs KC; 16 to 13 vs. NYJ) the defensive unit set the table for the offense by providing good QB pressure and creating turnovers. The offensive unit was the beneficiary of numerous short fields to go to work. The game vs. the NYJ is an example of what the defense is capable of achieving when they play as a cohesive unit. 2 interceptions, 3 sacks, numerous QB pressures and knockdowns were instrumental in a hard fought victory.

In order for the Raiders defense to make a bigger impact, all phases of play must improve. This is very noticeable when you dig through the defensive statistical categories. Currently the Raiders D ranks in the bottom third in most categories. By the end of the season, I would hope that this unit is closer to the top half in league rankings.

Defensive CategoryOaklandRank
Scoring Allowed24.723
Total Yards per Game Allowed360.526
Yards per Rush Attempt4.626
Passing yards per game224.322
First Downs Allowed Per Game 21.329
Sacks Created1611
Turnovers Created10T17
3rd Down Conversion Rate40.7%23


Anonymous Anonymous said...

D has carried the team for four games let down in two. O is awful it has one first half TD all year that is the real problem

read this

8:11 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I read the article and I'm fully aware of how much the Raiders offense has struggled. It is a team game and clearly the offense has put the D in a tough spot.

The point of my post was simply that the Raiders D needs to lead the way while the offense develops. Further, the Raiders D needs to shut down the opponent late in the game when they are handed 9 and 12 point leads going into the 4th quarter.

I disagree with your point "D has carried the team for four games let down in two"

These are the facts:

There have been 2 blowouts >>>

vs. Denver; The D gave up 41 points, 441 yards, and 7.5 yards per play. A total dismantling of the D.

at New Orleans; The D gave up 34 points, 441 yards, and 6.9 yards per play. The Raiders D put zero pressure on Brees and got demolished.

There have been 2 4th Quarter collapses >>>

at Buffalo; The Raiders were up 16 to 7 with only 6:18 left in the game. Buffalo scored 17 points in the 4th quarter. The Bills had 3 possessions in the 4th quarter ... TD, TD, FG. 1 stop by the Raiders D in the 4th Q and it is a "W" instead of a "L".

vs. San Diego; The Raiders were up 15 to 3 going into the 4th quarter. San Diego scored 25 points in the 4th quarter ... TD, TD, missed FG, FG, TD. Once again, the Raiders D made zero stops in the 4th quarter.

Bottom Line: In the Raiders 4 losses, the team has allowed 31.7 points per game. The Raiders D has played 2 complete games (at KC, vs. NYJ), been blown out in 2 games (vs. Den, at NO), and melted down in 2 games (at Buff, vs. SD).

11:32 PM  

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