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Raiders Run Defense Leaves a Familiar Stench

Discussion in 'Smack Talk' started by wrbanwal, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005

    There was something about Saturday night's loss to the 49ers that was awfully familiar.

    It's the sort of awful familiarity that makes it hard to wholly accept whatever good vibrations were established in the previous pre-season game, and it's the same sort that sends tremors of discontent down even the most optimistic fan's backside.

    The scoreboard never matters in a pre-season game, but so often the statistics do.

    The Raiders’ run defense allowed 275 yards rushing on only 47 carries (5.9 average per rush), echoing the same troubling issues of last season.

    Rookie running back Glen Coffee amassed 129 yards rushing while averaging 8.0 yards per carry, converted quarterback Michael Robinson ran for 97 yards on only 14 carries, and even undrafted rookie Kory Sheets had 51 yards on only 12 carries.

    And it isn’t as if the 49ers were innovative in their run blocking or utilized some scheme that was unfamiliar to the Raiders. In fact, all the 49ers did was pound the ball up the gut over, and over, and over, and…the Raiders had no answer.

    In observing the defense’s performance in each of the first two pre-season games, the glaring issue seems to be fundamental tackling. That is, wrapping up and stopping the ball carrier on first contact.

    There were several instances in Saturday night’s game when Raider defenders met opposing running backs at or around the line of scrimmage, but could not take them down with the first or second hit.

    In fact, the only thing that could stop or slow down the 49ers' rushing attack was a missed field goal in the third quarter, or whenever Alex Smith or Shaun Hill dropped back to pass (rookie Nate Davis was impressive in his pre-season debut).

    What’s so disconcerting about the Raiders’ poor tackling is that it was a huge problem last season, and it’s been a point of emphasis this off-season.

    Head coach Tom Cable stressed fundamentals in the first week of practice, and part of the reason why new defensive coordinator John Marshall was brought along is because of his emphasis on solid, fundamental play.

    There were a few bright flashes on defense, especially in the department of pressuring the quarterback, but it was all too inconsistent.

    Offensively, the Raiders let down a bit from the first pre-season game, but overall, it was still a good performance.

    JaMarcus Russell didn’t look sharp in his first offensive drive, but after settling down a bit, he managed to reclaim the same poise and quick decision-making he owned in the first pre-season game. Russell completed seven of his 11 pass attempts, finishing with 76 yards and one touchdown.

    Russell’s touchdown pass is worth noting simply for the ball he threw to rookie receiver Louis Murphy.

    With good protection in the pocket, Russell found a wide-open Murphy in the right of the end zone and delivered a beautifully thrown ball that can be best described as a laser beam of a pass.

    Playing for the injured Chaz Schilens, Murphy was impressive, finishing with two catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.

    In observing his play in the first two pre-season games, Murphy looks like he will be a key contributor this season, displaying nice route running skills and good speed.

    Another youngster who impressed was rookie tight end Brandon Myers, who looked like a virtual clone of Zach Miller. Myers had four catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, but he was equally impressive as a blocker.

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