Run Defense Still Struggling to Put it Together
After having Green Bay Packers running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks combine for 71 yards on 15 attempts in their loss last week, the Raiders churned out yet another poor performance against the run against Tennessee.
DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry carried the Titans’ offense with a combined total of 89 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota also got into the mix with 20 yards on three attempts. Murray’s decisive cuts and elusiveness in the open field often forced Oakland’s defenders to chase him down from behind, while Henry’s tough, downhill running style wore down the middle of their defense.
With Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack spending a majority of their time near the line of scrimmage, the Raiders’ defensive line is loaded with talent both within the interior and along the edges, but their absence at the second level has had a negative impact. As Oakland’s younger linebackers (Ben Heeney and Cory James) continue to develop their instincts, Malcolm Smith has struggled to carry the load, especially against the run.
“It definitely bothers you, especially being a defensive guy and being a leader on this defense,” Mack said when asked if the poor play still bothered him in preseason. “It’s stuff that you don’t want to see, but at the same time, it’s a great learning experience right now. This will only get us ready.”
As they continue to gain repetitions in practice, Oakland’s young guys should only get better as the season progresses. Del Rio and company will have to take advantage of these mistakes happening in the preseason if they are going to be prepared for when the games count starting September 11.
Next: Preseason Week 3 Takeaways