We’re past the it’s too early phase of the preseason. What we’re seeing from the Oakland Raiders now is a good indication of what is in store for the 2011 season. By the looks of things Oakland’s offense is going to have to be even better than last year for any real hopes of making the playoffs to materialize.
Despite being without its top three wide receivers and missing the services of both Zach Miller and his replacement Kevin Boss the Oakland offense has looked good enough to compete with the NFL elite. At least that should be the case once the best weapon in football returns (Darren McFadden, of course).
As for the defense…let’s just say that losing Chris Johnson, Hiram Eugene, Mike Mitchell and Travis Goethel can’t be an acceptable excuse for such poor showings. Not a single one of those men has been a difference maker during their NFL days. We’ll give Johnson the second half of the ’08 season when he made DeAngelo Hall expendable as the lone exception.
Al Davis committed a lot of money to his defense. Too bad all of that money went to the same men that were part of the same underachieving unit that yielded big plays and big point totals at inopportune times.
Still unable to stop the run now the defense has a new dilemma – they can’t defend the pass either.
Stanford Routt is going to make the easiest $10-million since Bernie Madoff. If Johnson can’t get healthy then there is a 100% chance opposing QBs will simply pick on DeMarcus Van Dyke like a chubby kid in a cruel game of dodge ball.
But DVD isn’t the only weak link in pass coverage. It is more than obvious that Nnamdi Asomugha was the dam preventing the flood. Now that he’s gone the Oakland defense is underwater without much chance of coming up for air. Chimdi Chekwa can’t tackle. Walter McFadden can’t cover. Jeremy Ware can’t get on the field. The corners are a real problem.
So too is the last line of defense.
Tyvon Branch is great against the run but has become nothing more than a head-hunting safety against the pass. Micheal Huff is still Michael Huff, running hot and cold like faucet in an old apartment complex. Stevie Brown is a sure tackler but couldn’t cover a slice of stale pizza if he were Reynolds Wrap. Jerome Boyd is more linebacker than safety and Mike Mitchell is just MIA.
Then there’s the linebackers that seem to disappear into the void of offensive linemen.
Rolando McClain was supposed to be solid against the run and terrible against the pass. The exact opposite has been true. Quentin Groves is starting by default but he’d be lucky to be more than a special teamer with most other NFL squads. Kamerion Wimbley’s lone move to rush the passer has been seen a million times on tape and it’s not longer enough to dip the inside shoulder and turn on the jets.
That brings us to the most disappointing unit of the preseason thus far – the defensive line.
If there was one area you were supposed to be able to bet the house on it was the D-line. They were supposed to be the bullies on which Hue Jackson was building his foundation. Instead they’ve been bullied more than Rebecca Black on Friday.
Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly have no business being buried by interior linemen. Between the two, with their strength and athleticism, they should be able to move blockers like they’re wearing roller skates. Matt Shaughnessy has Pro-Bowl talent but that means little if he’s playing for a subpar defense. Same for the up and coming Lamarr Houston.
When you look at the individual pieces this would appear to be a defense more than capable of being a reliable unit. However the sum of the parts results in a whole that is very empty. Chuck Bresnahan is a defensive coordinator in title only. He knows the Al Davis way because he’s done it before. This is Al’s defense, Al’s philosophy and Al’s mess. Mr. Davis had a team on the brink of playoff contention. With the way the defense is going he’ll be stuck with more overpaid performers on a non-competing team with another rebuilding project underway.
Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Chimdi Chekwa Chris Johnson Chuck Bresnahan Darren McFadden Deangelo Hall DeMarcus Van Dyke Hiram Eugene Hue Jackson Jeremy Ware Jerome Boyd Kamerion Wimbley Kevin Boss Lamarr Houston Matt Shaughnessy Michael Huff Michael Mitchell Nnamdi Asomugha Quentin Groves Richard Seymour Rolando McClain Stanford Routt Tommy Kelly Travis Goethel Tyvon Branch Walter McFadden Zach Miller