It was déjà vu all over again for Raider fans on Saturday night. Never mind that 49er third round selection Glen Coffee ran for 129-yards in the first half alone. Forget the fact that former Penn State quarterback turned running back Michael Robinson tallied 97-yards on the ground and some rookie trying to make the 9er 53-man roster named Kory Sheets got half way to the century mark as well on the Raiders and their non-existent run defense.
The names don’t really matter at this point.
The sight is all too familiar. It is a sight that has been seen every Sunday in the fall for the past six years.
The scene usually goes something like this: An opposing running back is handed the ball, he cuts outside off tackle to find a hole Jabba the Hut could slither through untouched. The runner then proceeds to walk past Raider defenders with ease. Repeat again on first down until said opponent reaches the end zone.
Glen Coffee sports an old school Roger Craig facemask. He also showed the world that Craig, who hasn’t played in nearly two decades, could suit up in 2009 and run through the Raider run defense.
There was a hole in the roof and the Raiders changed the rug.
When help was available in the draft, Al Davis selected a receiver.
When free agents were available in the offseason, Tom Cable signed offensive linemen.
When the whole world knew the Raiders couldn’t stop the run, John Marshall decided to implement blitz packages against the pass.
Now, it would appear that it is back to basics…again.
Never mind that Trevor Scott can’t seem to shed blocks. Forget the fact that Thomas Howard, Kirk Morrison, Ricky Brown and Jon Alston frequently over pursue. It doesn’t matter that Hiram Eugene and Tyvon Branch are going to rack up tackles in the same fashion that Gibril Wilson did one year ago.
The names don’t matter. They haven’t mattered for the last six miserable years and they’re not going to matter in 2009 unless John Marshall can pull off a miracle.
Marshall’s defense looked good against the pass on Saturday. Greg Ellis was in the face of Alex Smith like an angry Niner fan demanding a do-over for selecting the second string thrower first overall in 2005. That pressure helped Ricky Brown to his first interception of 2009.
But when it came time to stop the second, third and fourth string runners for the Raiders’ Bay Area rivals, it was a comedy of errors over and over again. The San Francisco scout team was licking their chops to get in on the buffet the Raider front seven was serving.
In total, the 49ers racked up 275 yards on the ground in route to a 21-20 victory. With better execution in the red zone, the Raiders could have put this game to bed in the first half. However, when your defense couldn’t stop a paraplegic from running the ball, no lead is safe. Not even the 14-3 advantage the Raiders took into the fourth quarter.
There is no doubt the Raiders are in the best scenario possible to turn things around in a hurry. They play in a weakened AFC West where the Denver Broncos, who couldn’t stop anybody from running or passing on them in ’08, were in the hunt for the divisional title. It is now or never for Tom Cable.
Unfortunately, now looks a lot like the last six years and never seems like the mantra preached by Al Davis when it comes to getting players in the front seven who can defend the run.
Even Jeff Garcia, with his myopic Favre-like delusions, has finally accepted the fact that he is destined to finish his career holding a clipboard. Now it is time for Al Davis to accept the fact that the vertical game alone cannot win titles in this era.
Garcia might not want to spend his final days with the best seat to watch JaMarcus Russell throwing bullets to Louis Murphy in the end zone, but it is fact and he’s just got to accept it.
Al Davis might not want to watch every running back in the NFL romp through the Raider run defense again, but it is also fact and he too must accept it.
Raider fans have already accepted it. We’ve had six years to become the most educated fan base in the NFL when it comes to horrible run defense.
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Topics: Al Davis, Alex Smith, Gibril Wilson, Glen Coffee, Greg Ellis, Hiram Eugene, JaMarcus Russell, Jeff Garcia, John Marshall, Jon Alston, Kirk Morrison, Kory Sheets, Louis Murphy, Michael Robinson, Ricky Brown, Thomas Howard, Tom Cable, Trevor Scott, Tyvon Branch