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: Cooper Kupp /

Quick question: What separates flag football from the NFL? Well, presumably it’s the word “tackle” but that element was all too often absent from Oakland’s defensive performance on Saturday.

On multiple occasions, Raiders defenders were positioned too high, didn’t wrap up, and took poor pursuit angles.

On a third down and one on the opening drive, the Rams handed the ball off to Todd Gurley, the former first-round pick out of Georgia. Mario Edwards Jr. did a nice job of moving laterally to the point of attack.

Instead of wrapping up though, Edwards Jr. lunged at Gurley’s hip with his shoulder pads. The running back bounced off the hit like a pinball and gained an extra three yards and a first down.

A few plays later, the Rams decided to run it up the middle again. Sean Smith descended from his corner spot and did a nice job evading the block by Rams wide receiver Robert Woods. He met Gurley head on at the line of scrimmage.

Instead of lowering his body to take Gurley down below the waist however, he used his shoulder to aim for Gurley’s torso. Without wrapping up and without realizing he had missed the tackle, Smith watched as Gurley went on for a nine yard gain.

Tackling isn’t just about technique at the point of impact. It’s also about knowing the right angle to take. On a second down and two, Goff dumped the ball off to tight end Gerald Everett in the flat. Everett went down the sideline for another twenty four yards. But it is the last twelve that are the most frustrating for Raiders’ fans.

Trailing Everett, Marquel Lee chased the rookie tight end at full speed and at an angle that allowed Everett to use Lee’s momentum against him. Lee fell flat footed as his man sped by him for twelve extra yards.