Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CJ's 2 Cents

The Raiders defensive front 7 got completely mauled last Saturday by the Niners in a 20-21 loss. The Niners rang up 275 yards on the ground on 47 carries. In the context of an exhibition game, what really concerns me most is what happened in the 1st half when the Raiders played most of their defensive starters.

It is startling that 1 basic play was run over and over and over again by the Niners with continued success. Rookie RB Coffee was able to gouge the Raiders defense for 129 yards on only 16 carries which equates to over 8 yards per carry. This basic play was the Niners guards pulling and the tackles power blocking.

Said defensive end Greg Ellis: “They were pulling some of the linemen around and we’re just going to look at it. I’m pretty sure the coaches are going to come up with a solution to make sure that doesn’t happen again. It wasn’t like they were able to run any play and get yardage on us. That one play, we just didn’t handle it well. They did what they should, they kept doing it one side to the other and they kept having success with it.”

The question I have is why an in-game adjustment wasn't made by Defensive Coordinator John Marshall? Improving the run defense is paramount for any team success in 2009.

Unfortunately, the run defensive woes isn't just 1 thing that can be easily "tweaked". It is a combination of numerous factors.

(1) Poor tackling

There were plenty of times vs. SF where (a) our players are in the right spot but lacking the fundamental techniques to bring the carrier down upon contact or (b) the Raider defender allowed the ball carrier to drag him for an addition 2,3,4 extra yards.

(2) Inability of the DL and LBs to get off/shed their blockers

Watching the game vs. SF, what I noticed was that the Raider D had a VERY difficult time disengaging from their counterpart. Shedding the blocker and wrapping up the RB is basic stuff that was faulty throughout most of this game.

(3) Lack of discipline

Each individual player needs to focus on his individual assignment/responsibility and trust that their teammates will do their own job. This was evident every time a defender over pursued and neglected maintaining gap control.

(4) Lack of aggression and toughness

The Raiders front 7 got completely manhandled by the Niners OLine. Cable put it correctly although he used a poor choice of words when he said that the defenders "need to set their jaw". In other words, winning the physical one on one matchups is the essence of winning the battle.

(5) Lack of in-game adjustments by the coaching staff

This is in reference to countering what the opponent is doing. Changing up defensive playcalling, adjusting formations, schemes, gap controls, and personnel accordingly is imperative to stopping the bleeding.

(6) Lack of talented run stoppers

Our front 7 that doesn't have 1 single player who is noted for being a good run stopper. Since we don't have any outstanding run defenders, the team needs to compensate for this lack of talent with discipline, scheme and collective aggression, and most importantly, a coaching staff that puts a premium on improving this area.

My personal belief is that the Raiders need to commit their energies, coaches' meetings, personnel, and focus to making the necessary improvement of run defense PRIORITY #1. If this means sticking SS Tyvon Branch in the box, so be it. If it means putting in the best personnel at stopping the run, I'm all for it. For example, I wouldn't be opposed to using DE Trevor Scott as only a situational pass rusher. I wouldn't disparge the useage of newly acquired LB Nap Harris even if it means sitting Kirk Morrison. If it requires scouring the waiver wire for a run plugging DT, go for it.

Whatever it takes to force the opponent to put the ball in the air to beat us the better chance we have to win. Pass defense is clearly the strength of the unit. If we allow opponents to run the ball down our throat without an answer, it will be next to impossible to have a successful 2009 campaign. Sure, it might have been only a preseason game in August but I don't think it is too early to ring the bells in order to put the emphasis and urgency in fixing this major shortcoming.

P.S. Hard to believe but "CJ's 2 Cents" was my 200th post at SBF ... time flies by way too fast!


Blogger Raider Karma said...

As always CJ, right on the money!

It is hard to believe that after spending the first week of camp working on the "basics" and after six straight years of horrible run defense that this is still the same problem.

The more things change the more they stay the same I guess.

Cable and Co. need to address this problem NOW.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Flyn Rhino said...

Amen well stated ....Just saw the replay on the NFL network. Run Def & tackling in its current state will make for a very long season.

12:31 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Well said, CJ. The Raiders' run defense is a huge concern. Unfortunately, it looks like we are stuck with very few changes in personnel, so it will be up to the coaches and the sheer determination of the players to correct this problem. It's a tall order for this group.

Congrats on #200.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

RK - "NOW" is a good deadline!

FR - Welcome ... very cool logo/icon that you have.

NYR - Concern is putting it mildly ... thanks.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that the niners spent all camp trying to be physical, while the raiders spent much more trying to get mental.

At this point, it makes sense that the niners would manhandle our guys, because they are in better football shape right now.

I'm glad we lost the game, going undefeated in the preseason is a sure sign of failure in the regular season (or it always seems that way).

Hopefullly plugging Napo back in the middle will help.


9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BJ Raji instead of DHB would have helped, move Kelly to end and put in another DT. Move Scott out of the lineup per your suggesiton except in third and long, he was being blown off the line 5-6 yards. Bottom line it looks like it is going to be another long season for the Raiders. No way you can be compettive never mind win in the NFL if you cannot stop the run.

Why has Al not addressed the d-line situation during the past offseasons. Last good d-line was PArrela and Sam Adams and co

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bj Raji was getting double and triple teamed the Packers last game. I don't understand the rationale of drafting a WR when the core of your football team (DL/OL) sucks donkey cock. I just hope we're not in for 160 YPG rushing giving up by our "D"

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We will see how good the Marshal plan is come saturday against the Saints. Last season when they had a "poor" running attack they ran the ball at will to kill us by 4TD's....Now there running game has been improved.....Could be a very long day in Oakland....Lets hope we hold our own....
Raider Greg

9:26 PM  

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