So much for the revitalized defense, eh? Raiders fans were harshly brought back to Earth after a few successful weeks. I admit to being caught up in the hype after my in-depth preview on Saturday. While I did praise Foles’ success on the offense, I thought that the secondary had played mistake-free football all season and was bound to continue against an offense that had struggled in previous weeks. Just feel like I should eat a bit of crow, as the Eagles ran wild over the Raiders all day. Here’s a few notes I took during the game on how the Raiders can recover from such a harsh loss.
DJ Hayden might need to be benched soon.
I have been in Hayden’s corner for most of the season. He has generally ran well with receivers, and despite giving up a lot of completions, he had a knack for delivering timely plays that generally offset his missed coverages. Not on Sunday, where Hayden was directly responsible for two of Riley Cooper’s touchdowns. He misjudged Cooper’s location on the first endzone fade, and after casually talking with Cooper before the snap, jumped for the tackle entirely too early and missed again. First-year cornerbacks generally have a rough time in their rookie seasons, and Hayden can still have a successful NFL career. He clearly is struggling at the moment, though, and could stand to learn from some of the more experienced corners on the roster (where has Philip Adams been?).
The offense finally decided to show up.
The past couple of weeks had relied on stellar defensive play to compensate for an ineffective offense. Partially due to needing to keep up with an unstoppable Eagles offense, the Raiders mounted 560 offensive yards, the most by the team since 1968. Pryor has continued to be a one-man show on offense as the receivers continue to struggle to create consistent separation. One of his interceptions was a terrible drop by Streater, and the other was simply a terrible throw when the game was far out of hand. The quarterback left with about nine minutes left in the game, but he stated that it was more of a precautionary measure than anything. The offense continued to move somewhat well with McGloin under center, which should give fans a bit of relief if Pryor sustains a more serious injury in future weeks. It was also nice to see Criner getting field time, seemingly earning more trust with the coaching staff. He didn’t have much of an impact, but he continued to show good hands on his few attempts.
Speaking of injuries, McFadden took a few steps back after a successful week against Pittsburgh. His injury was expected by every NFL fan in existence, but more concerning for his future: a quietly great game by Rashad Jennings. Jennings suffered an early penalty after running into the punter on a block attempt, but he finished the day with 15 carries for 102 yards and a TD and ran tough on many runs. Jennings showed a lot of power, barreling through an offensive line that McFadden has seemed to have endless trouble behind.
The team needs to learn how to create pressure against fast-paced offenses.
A disturbing trend has emerged in this young Raiders’ team. While the defense is capable of playing lights-out against lesser offenses, or even just offenses that use a traditional amount of time, the team seems to completely fall apart against high-octane offenses. The team has seemed virtually unable to stop Denver, Philadelphia, and even San Diego in the second half after the teams started using no-huddle. Logically, this should improve as the season goes on and the secondary learns how to play together without needing as much time to set up and execute. However, the more concerning aspect of this play is the complete inability for the team to even get remote pressure on the QB. The secondary is adequate enough when there is any form of pressure, but the pass rush must step up and deliver on a consistent basis. Tarver has masked the team’s weakness at defensive end with complex schemes and blitzes, but that can only work for so long before teams just run the ball down your throat. The Raiders don’t really seem capable of playing vanilla defense, which is what a lot of high-volume offenses thrive against. The Eagles were constantly snapping the ball with over twenty seconds left on the playclock, something the Raiders clearly weren’t prepared for. This should be a serious point of concern this week as the team prepares to play against New York, who had shut down the Philadelphia offense a week before they stomped the Raiders on the road.