1. Run Defense
For as much of an improvement as the defense made, there was one area where they seemed to have taken a step back. And that was the run defense.
The Titans racked up 181 yards on 25 carries, good for a ridiculous average of 6.2 yards per carry. Tennessee’s only touchdown on the day came via the ground. DeMarco Murray did most of the damage, totaling 114 yards on just 16 carries, good for an average of 7.1 ypc. He is the one that scored the touchdown.
The run defense has actually been trending in the wrong direction since the season began. Week 1, the Saints totaled 88 yards on 22 carries. Atlanta ran for 139 yards on 29 carries. And then Tennessee ran for 42 more yards on four less carries.
So what’s going on?
It starts up front. The front four (or sometimes from three, depending on the formation) are struggling to win at the line of scrimmage. For the most part, the team is not controlling their gaps, and huge holes are being opened up by the opposing offensive line.
And from there, tackling has been a struggle.
But Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. got a little more creative against Tennessee with blitzes and pressure, so hopefully they can find some ways to get the run defense patched up.
2. Menelik Watson
There isn’t an Oakland Raider that is more frustrating than Menelik Watson.
D.J. Hayden might be an obvious counter to that, but he’s just bad. We know he’s bad and we expect him to be bad. The same can be said for Ben Heeney.
But Menelik? He’s actually not that bad — and potentially the opposite. He might even be good. And that is what is so frustrating.
In 2015, Watson was holding his own, looking like he would live up to those second-round pick expectations. And again this season, he has impressed in his short time at right tackle.
Key words: short time.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another. An achilles, a foot, an ankle, a knee, a groin…and now, a calf strain.
It just might not be in the cards for Menelik Watson to be healthy, and more importantly, to stay healthy.
Few things in football are more annoying than a dropped pass. Especially a dropped pass that was supposed to be an easy catch. Especially a dropped pass that was supposed to be an easy catch that would have converted on third down.
Several of those happened against the Titans on Sunday. In total, there were four drops by the wideouts, and Amari Cooper’s was the worst of them all. His would have converted for a first down, but instead, the drive ended in a punt.
Carr was 21 of 35 for 249 yards and 1 touchdown. Without those drops, his day would have been much more efficient, and there is no question that the drops lost the team points.
Cooper and Seth Roberts are the two that standout, but Walford has now dropped two passes on the season. So really, just about the entire group needs to get it together.