Oakland Raiders: Notes and Observations From Week Three

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Sep 27, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge (82) gets tackled by Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Browns 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Trouble With the Tight Ends. Again.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before — a previously unheralded and lightly regarded tight end has a career day against the Raiders. In week one, it was Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert. In week two, it was Baltimore’s Crockett Gillmore. And in week three, it was Cleveland’s Gary Barnidge.

That’s right, for the third consecutive week, Ken Norton‘s defense was victimized by an opposing tight end. Too many times, Barnidge was allowed to run free or sit in the soft spots of the Raiders defense — all alone — and pick up receptions and yards.

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Following Gilmore’s field day against the Raiders’ defense, Norton said he was aware of the problem and vowed to fix it. That fix didn’t happen on Sunday. It’s inexplicable given the athletic talent the Raiders have on their roster. Malcolm Smith and Ray-Ray Armstrong or big, fast, physical, athletic linebackers who can cover a tight end if needs be. Why not utilize one of them when a tight end releases off the line?

For the game, Barnidge caught six passes — on ten targets — for 105 yards and a touchdown. While the numbers themselves aren’t eye popping, they are certainly nothing to blow off either. They are part of a pattern — and bad habit — the Raiders have of allowing opposing tight ends to tear them up.

Norton is aware of the problem. At least, he says he is. But the problem hasn’t been corrected and it is something other teams will continue to exploit time and time again until it is. It’s a serious problem and one that has to be fixed sooner rather than later.

Next: The Workhorse Gets to Gallop