Oakland Raiders: Keys To Victory Over The Cincinnati Bengals

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Sep 3, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) catches a touchdown pass over Oakland Raiders cornerback Keith McGill (39) during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback Play MUST Improve – Quickly

One of the enduring images from the preseason schedule is cornerback D.J. Hayden getting juked at the line by Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson who then glided into the endzone and hauled in a perfectly thrown pass by Teddy Bridgewater. Yes, it was a perfectly thrown ball, but if Hayden had not allowed himself to get deked out of his cleats in the first place, he may have been in a better position to defend the pass, rather than lying face down in the grass as Johnson hauled it in for the score.

Hayden gets the lion’s share of the criticism, but he is by far, not the only Raiders’ cornerback to struggle through the exhibition games. Second year man Keith McGill got absolutely torched by Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett for a 63-yard score early on in the preseason finale.

Of Oakland’s young guns in the defensive backfield, Travis Carrie has played the most consistent football. He hasn’t gotten lit up to the extent, or as spectacularly as Hayden and McGill have, but he hasn’t exactly been a shutdown corner either.

But these three are who GM Reggie McKenzie and Del Rio have chosen to ride or die with. While an improved and highly aggressive defensive front can mask some of the deficiencies in Oakland’s secondary, McGill, Hayden, and Carrie are going to need to make some things happen on their own. They are going to need to make some plays.

They have a big test against the Bengals in A.J. Green, who is considered one of the better wideouts in the league. Hayden, Carrie, and McGill are going to need all the help they can get from veteran safeties Nate Allen and the ageless Charles Woodson.

Unless that defensive front can really aggravate and frustrate Dalton, the Bengals are going to throw early and often. It will be up to Oakland’s youngsters to limit the damage the can do.

Next: Get the L-Train Up and Running