Take Lamar Miller Out of the Game
Oakland’s run defense has gotten gashed a few times this season pretty badly. Against DeMarco Murray and the Titans back in week three, Tennessee absolutely gouged the Raiders defense for 181 yards. Back in week six, the Chiefs tagged the Raiders for 183.
Overall for the season, Oakland’s run defense is giving up just about 115 yards a game – making them the twenty-first best unit in the league. Which, no matter which way you slice it, ain’t all that great.
However, over the last few weeks, there have been some definite signs of life and improvement from this Raiders run defense. After that debacle against Kansas City, the Raiders have held Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Denver to 105, 102, and 33 yards, respectively.
It’s a pretty impressive defensive performance given that all three teams have backs that can churn out the yards. And it lends a lot of credence to the belief that this Oakland defense is starting to put it all together and is becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Which brings us to Houston and its featured back, Lamar Miller. In this, his first year in Houston, Miller has taken his opportunity – and forgive the horrible pun – and has run with it. For the season, Miller has rushed for 720 yards on 168 carries – a 4.3 yards per carry average. He’s also chipped in with 124 receiving yards out of the backfield.
Miller can pop a big run or he can grind out some short yardage when needed. He’s a dangerous weapon and one the Texans really rely on to keep their offense moving, given the – challenges – of Brock Osweiler’s up and down season.
Simply put, the Raiders need to focus on Miller and take him out of Houston’s offensive equation. If they can shut him down the way they’ve put the clamps on running backs the last few weeks, they’ll put the onus of the offensive burden on Osweiler. And to this point in the season, he’s not looked up to the task.
The Raiders have to take Miller out of the game and force Houston to become a one dimensional team. If they can do that, their chances of winning this game and keeping pace in the AFC West will be greatly improved.