The Raiders have already been embarrassed once in their own crib by a rookie running back this year. If history repeats itself Sunday it will signal rock bottom for the Silver and Black in an otherwise forgettable season.
What Doug Martin did in Oakland will go down as one of the great performances by a rookie in the history of the NFL. Cleveland’s Trent Richardson surely has designs on one-upping Martin.
What made Martin’s performance so painful to watch was he was hardly touched by the Oakland defense. But that is nothing new as countless runners seem to be doing the same to the awful Raiders defense.
Now if Dennis Allen can actually inspire his defenders to get close enough to get a hand or two on Richardson he’ll be half way home to slowing the roll the Alabama alum. But getting to Richardson is one thing. Getting him on the ground is quite another.
All season long Allen’s disastrous defense has been plagued by errors of the most basic kind. Bad angles, lack of gap responsibility, poor communication and terrible tackling have highlighted the many errors made week in and week out. If that continues the Raiders will again find themselves on the wrong end of a dominant performance.
Richardson is currently playing the best ball of his freshman year in the pro game. His combination of speed, agility and a body built like a fire hydrant make Richardson a nightmare for teams like Oakland.
With the ability to run through or around tacklers the Raiders could very well be facing their toughest test of the season with regards to stopping the run. That might sound crazy but get back to me on Sunday if by the start of the second quarter Richardson has already hit pay dirt twice. That is a real possibility as one man could carry the Browns past the slumping Raiders.
Simply put it must be a team effort to contain Richardson. Gang tacking, swarming to the ball and maintaining gap integrity are all keys to victory. Earlier this week Richardson sang the praises of his former teammate at Alabama – Rolando McClain. Obviously McClain won’t be playing which is likely a good thing for the Raiders. Then again, a situation like this call for all hands on deck and all those hands had better get a good grip of Richardson. If Oakland allows another rookie to run rampant then this season will hit its lowest point.