Oakland Raiders: Notes & Observations From The Week That Was

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Sep 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Crockett Gillmore (80) scores a touchdown next to Oakland Raiders defensive back Taylor Mays (27) and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) in the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Tight Ends Catch Passes Too

One of the most bedeviling things about Oakland’s defensive performance over the first two weeks of the young season has been their inability to cover the opposing team’s tight ends. It’s as if Ken Norton has forgotten that tight ends either exist, or that they can catch passes too.

Opposing tight ends have absolutely blown up the Raiders defense. And we’re not talking Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham here. We’re talking about relatively unknown and unheralded players having field days against Oakland.

In week one, Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert torched the Raiders defense for 104 yards on nine receptions and a pair of touchdowns. Eifert seemed to run free all day long and Andy Dalton feasted on it. If the Raiders defense had accounted for Eifert, actually covered him, and were able to take away the pair of scores from Eifert, and the game might have been much, much different.

Week two was like a case of deja vu all over again as the Ravens used their tight end just as effectively as Cincinnati did a week before. The Raiders were clearly having problems with Steve Smith, but Baltimore’s not exactly celebrated tight end Crockett Gilmore – who? – did just as much, if not more damage to Oakland than the veteran receiver.

Gilmore hauled in five passes for 88 yards, a pair of scores, and left fans wondering how Norton could forget to cover the tight ends. Again.

At least acknowledging that Oakland is having a problem remembering that tight ends are pass catchers too, Norton has vowed to fix the problem.

Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton had this to say about the matter:

"“That’s more about us than it is anything about them. That’s something we need to get corrected and we will. It’s just minor things. We’ll get it fixed. Head coach Jack Del Rio believes shutting down tight end production is simple. The Raiders just need to ‘cover our guy.’”"

Given that the Raiders held Gilmore to a single catch for nine yards in the second half of the game, perhaps they’re on the road to toughening up that soft spot in their defense. At least, everybody is hoping so.

Next: The Forgotten Men