STOPPING THE RUN
When Darius Latham has been your best interior lineman, that’s a problem. This is not meant to slight Latham at all, as he’s played incredibly well this preseason – Tennessee game aside.
No, this is more of an indictment of the rest of the big boys up front who are supposed to be big bad bullies this season. Yet it’s an UDFA who has led the way for this group, who have frankly been pushed around a little.
Justin “Jelly” Ellis was playing well enough to relegate big Dan Williams to backup NT, but he’s been pushed around a bit this preseason. The Raiders run defense has been atrocious, and it’s not just the typical preseason concerns. Preseason concerns are vanilla scheme and personnel. The Raiders concerns are fundamental – which is daunting since they were emphasized all camp long.
Lack of run fits, getting out of lanes, not getting off blocks, over-pursuit of runners, and poor tackling have been the major factors in opponents’ success against the Raiders run defense. They allowed Eddie Lacy to run all over them. Marcus Mariota looked damned-near like a HOFer running the option against them. DeMarco Murray though it was 2014 again.
DC Ken Norton Jr. doesn’t appear to have figured out how to best use all the talent on this defense properly as of yet. It is preseason so expect the defense to get a lot more complex and exotic once the lights come on – but the run defense in particular, whether it be first team, backups, or fringe players, has been downright terrible.
It all starts up front – and if they can’t run the ball better and stop the run, then all those shiny new pieces and feel-good stories won’t matter a lick.
Next: ACCOUNTABILITY AND DISCIPLINE