Oakland Raiders Must Get More Big Plays on Defense

The Raiders defense has been pretty bad the last few weeks (well years, for that matter). Opposing quarterbacks are putting up huge numbers against a beleaguered secondary that has rotated in different players on a near weekly basis. It was no different last week when quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions came to town. Stafford threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns, while accumulating a 110.4 passer rating. Funny, but not funny, was the fact that there was actually some improvement last week, too. Before last week, the Raiders have allowed an average 115+ passer rating to opposing teams. Baby steps. The big difference this week, as opposed to the Houston and Green Bay games, was the defense came up big when it mattered.

On the first drive the Raiders “forced” a fumble near their own red zone and then came up with a red zone interception late in the second quarter when the Lions were on the verge of going up two scores. The Raiders offense turned both of those turnovers into touchdowns and escaped the first half nursing a three point lead.

In the second half, when the offense sputtered, it was the defense that forced a field goal and two punts on the Lions first three drives. This gave them a fighting chance to stay in the game. All would have been for naught, however, if the defense had not come up huge on the Lions final drive by shutting them down on four consecutive plays.

It was another “edge of the seat” moment for Raider Nation, as the defense was torn to shreds other than those big plays. And by the look of things, there is little hope for improvement the rest of the way.

Or is there?

Former Raider Nolan Harrison Chimes In.

Nolan Harrison III spent ten years in the NFL on the defensive line, with six of those being with the Raiders. He has gone on to earn an MBA, and is a senior director with the National Football League Players Association. He has an insider’s view on how defenses work and how they game plan. Harrison believes the Raiders defense will improve because “everything being equal, injury bug in check, most well-coached hungry defenses improve because most offenses have shown everything that they have in their arsenal by late November.”

Basically, Harrison believes that the Raiders defense is well coached and hungry, and that they will have tape of basically everything opposing offenses are trying to do. With fewer and fewer surprises thrown at them, it allows the defense to better anticipate and thus gives them a better chance to come up with a few more big plays.

Add to that the fact that many of the younger players seem to be getting better each week and are gaining familiarity with DC Paul Gunther’s scheme. As that happens, it’s possible the defense can build confidence and actually show improvement down the stretch. Maybe.

It is very unlikely this season that Raiders defense will ever actually dominate, but given what Nolan said, it could be solid enough to give the team a fighting chance in most of the remaining games. With how good the Raiders offense is getting each week, even just a little help from the defense (like what happened last week) can turn a loss into a win.


1 thought on “Oakland Raiders Must Get More Big Plays on Defense

  1. With DE’s Mauro and Key both out and our DE’s being thin before that we NEED more blitzing from all different angles. Rivers will cut a defense up into little pieces given the time. He needs to go down and go down often. He needs to be rush and pushed out of the pocket but at the same time we cant give him that dinky crossing slant in the middle.
    Does anybody remember last year when he was literally LAUGHING at us and even told our defense what their players were going to be right on the field. If that isn’t enough to get the D pissed off… it will be a long shootout of a game.

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