Oakland Raiders’ Defense: A Failure of Fundamentals

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 19: John Crockett
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 19: John Crockett /
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Oakland Raiders
OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 19: Jared Goff /

Another theme from last year that seems to be repeating itself is the lack of interior pass rush. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin often generated enough pressure off the edge last year, but quarterbacks were able to simply step up in the pocket.

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Fans and pundits often chalked up last year’s interior line troubles to the absence of Mario Edwards Jr., who missed 14 games in 2016 coming off a great season the year prior.

He was ineffectual at best on Saturday. In addition, Eddie Vanderdoes, who impressed last week and throughout training camp, was nowhere to be found.

On Saturday, Jared Goff enjoyed the same luxury that other quarterbacks facing the Raiders had last year. When the occasional edge pressure arrived, he was able to step up in the pocket. Even on Khalil Mack’s sack, a play that The Hulk himself would have been proud of, the ineffectiveness of the interior pass rushers was glaring.

That play is a microcosm of the Raiders’ poor effort along the defensive front. Vanderdoes employed a spin move that looked more like an amateur figure skater’s pirouette than any threat to the quarterback. In fact, Rob Havenstein, the offensive lineman charged with guarding him, appeared bored.

The man blocking Mario Edwards Jr., Rodger Saffold, didn’t even need the services of his teammate who was assigned to double team Edwards Jr. This play was a one-man show and only ended well because Khalil Mack is an absolute beast. But if that is the extent of the Raiders’ pass rush, the Silver and Black are in trouble.