Oakland Raiders’ Secondary Is Lacking A Physical Presence


The Oakland Raiders defenses of the 1970’s and early 80’s were built on strong intimidating secondary play. NFL receivers knew that when they went over the middle they were putting their football lives in danger. The Raiders used fear as a weapon to help shut down their opponent’s passing games, and they must get back to instilling in NFL receivers if they hope to be a true contender.

More from Las Vegas Raiders News

Hard-hitting safeties were the catalyst of those Raiders’ defenses of old who intimidated offenses before they ever came out the locker room. With ferocious hitters like Jack Tatum and George Atkinson roaming the middle of the field, receivers knew they were in the “danger zone” whenever they went across the middle. Tatum’s nickname of the “Assassin” was well-earned and deserved.

Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was a microcosm of how the Raiders’ secondary has performed this season. To be fair, Antonio Brown has been a one-man wrecking crew whenever Ben Roethlisberger has been hurling passes in his direction, but to allow one receiver to have 17 catches for 284 yards is just unacceptable.

Outside of Charles Woodson making his customary big plays, the secondary as been void of playmakers. Whether it’s opposing tight ends having career games or receivers making their own personal highlight reel, when pass catchers see the silver and black on their schedule their eyes light up.

Instead of striking fear in their opponents the Raiders secondary seems to be playing with fear. There seems to be a fear of physicality. In many instances the Raiders’ secondary is receiving punishment instead of dishing it out.

While the Steelers defenders were laying the wood on every play and treating Raider receivers like their own personal tackling dummies, the Raiders’ defensive backs seemed to be absorbing blows instead of delivering them.

Raiders head coach, Jack Del Rio, spoke about how his team defense took a step backwards with their performance against Pittsburgh in his weekly news conference. Del Rio blamed the inability to shed blocks and not playing with the proper leverage, as the primary reason the defense regressed.

"“We really went backward yesterday in terms of our execution in those areas, it’s something that we believe we can do well, something in coaches that we believe in. We just did not execute it yesterday very well,” Del Rio said on Monday"

When it’s time to bring a receiver down, the Raiders’ defensive backs seem to be grasping at receivers instead of tackling. They have a tendency of sitting back waiting for the receiver to come to them instead of attacking and initiating contact. When defenders are playing without aggressiveness and confidence in today’s pass friendly NFL, explosive players like Antonio Brown become SportsCenter highlight legends.

The Raiders’ secondary should be getting closer to full strength this week when they take on the Minnesota Vikings, with the return of starting safety Nate Allen, who has been sidelined since week one with a knee injury.

Travis Carrie who missed the Steleers game with shoulder and knee injuries is also expected back this week. Carrie was moved from  cornerback to the safety position when Allen went down but now should be ready to get back to being the Raiders’ number one cornerback.

Next: Mark Davis Gave Raiders Fans Hope

With Allen and Carrie reestablishing themselves in their rightful positions, the Raiders’ defensive back end should see improved play, but it’s going to be up to each individual to bring back the physicality that once was the staple of those legendary Raider defenses.