Linebacking Corps isn’t a Problem.
Against the Denver Broncos in Week 9, the Raiders’ linebacking corps flashed dominance, as they helped hold the Broncos rushing attack to just 33 yards on 12 attempts. Two weeks removed from said performance, Oakland’s inside linebackers fell flat against the Texans’ ground game and their dynamic duo at the tight end position.
Despite solid efforts from their teammates in the trenches, veteran starters Malcolm Smith and Perry Riley Jr. were unable to fill open holes and often failed to tackle Texans lead back Lamar Miller near the line of scrimmage.
Miller garnered 104 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
Both Smith and Riley Jr. struggled to take proper angles to the football, and when the two finally made their way to the designated hole, they failed to come off the block with any consistency, leaving the door open for Miller to find open space.
Rookie inside linebacker Cory James rotated in sparingly, but he too rarely made an impact when defending the run.
Smith did come down with an outstanding interception late in the second quarter, but his stellar effort failed to mask an otherwise ugly performance from the Raiders’ linebackers in coverage.
As expected, Houston’s tight ends C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin served as matchup nightmares for Smith and company, as the two combined for nine receptions for 114 yards.
Fiedorowicz and Griffin had great success against both man and zone coverage, as it was rare to see a Raiders defender within five yards of either of the tight ends for a majority of the contest.
Moving forward, opposing offenses will continue to target the Raiders’ struggling linebackers both on the ground and in coverage until they can flash dominance on a consistent basis.