Raiders’ Remaining Seven Struggle in Comparison
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio relieved defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. from his play calling duties late in the fourth quarter because of his defense’s inability to keep Ryan and company from marching down the field with elite consistency. Yes, it was that bad.
The Falcons averaged 8.2 yards per play in route to their 528-yard performance offensively, ultimately killing the Raiders’ chances by scoring on six of their final eight drives to close out the game.
Due in large part to the level of play from both their linebackers and safeties, the Raiders allowed the Falcons’ slew of tight ends — Jacob Tamme, Austin Hooper, and Levine Toilolo — to dictate the game offensively. The three combined for 10 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown.
Oakland’s starting inside linebackers Ben Heeney and Malcolm Smith failed to take advantage of the strong play from their front four in both phases of the game, pushing their overall grades on the season down to 44.8 and 34.2, respectively.
Heeney, a fifth-round pick out of Kansas in the 2015 NFL draft, made it difficult to watch at times. His motor is through the roof and he will never quit on the play, but his aggressive, high-effort style negatively affects his instincts and technique, and he rarely is ever there to make the play before the whistle. By all means, he’ll dive on the pile, but it’s about time he creates one.
Similarly to Heeney and Smith, safeties Reggie Nelson and Keith McGill struggled as a pair taking on the deep middle of the field and making plays in the run game.
Nelson, a former Pro Bowl safety with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015, has struggled to return to Pro Bowl form with Oakland, to say the least. Against Atlanta, Nelson contributed to the Raiders’ inability to limit the Falcons’ tight ends, especially when defending the play action.
Through two games, Nelson ranks 39th among all eligible safeties in the NFL (44.7).
Unlike Nelson, McGill put together a strong performance in Week 1, as he earned Oakland’s top defensive grade against the Saints; however, he was unable to recreate a similar performance in Week 2.
McGill dropped down to a 40.9 overall grade on the season because of his play against Atlanta due in large part to his inability to stick his man in coverage and play the run.
As you might expect, Oakland’s corners followed suit.