Edge-Defenders Absent from Top Performers List
Raiders edge-rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, two standout players within Oakland’s front seven, took a backseat against Kansas City.
Mack and Irvin failed to earn strong enough individual grades to breach PFF’s list of the Raiders’ top five defenders.
Flashing early, Mack recorded a sack on the Chiefs’ first offensive drive, uprooting Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher with unmatched power and technique.
His early dominance proved to be just a flash in the pan.
The Chiefs’ successfully double-teamed Mack for a majority of the contest, as he failed to record a second sack and was unable to effectively hold the edge against the run.
Though he is known for his receiving ability, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce did just enough along the edge to keep the Raiders from forcing Kansas City’s ball carriers to cut inside, as he often down blocked Oakland’s primary edge-defender.
Opposite of Mack, Irvin fell victim to a similar strategy, forcing the Raiders’ struggling linebacking corps to take on offensive linemen and prevent the Chiefs’ ball carriers from finding space along the boundary.
Led by third-year running back Spencer Ware, the Chiefs’ rushing attack found said space.
Ware carried the ball 24 times for 131 yards and a touchdown, wearing down the Raiders’ incapable linebackers both in the center and, of course, along the edges of their defense.
Because of their respective abilities, opposing offensive coordinators will often create well-prepared game plans geared towards limiting Mack and Irvin’s impact. If Oakland is going to dig themselves out of their defensive hole, their dynamic duo and Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. to rise to the occasion and reclaim the driver’s seat on defense.