COHN: It's time to fire Raiders who can't defend against run
Offense did what it needed against Tampa Bay, disaster was still result
Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 11:06 p.m.
OAKLAND -- You're feeling pretty good about the Raiders after what happened Sunday. Sure, they lost to Tampa Bay 42-32 and fell to 3-5 in the record department, but the offense came back several times and made a game of it, showed fight and grit and all that blue-collar, lunch-pail stuff the cliché artists love to write about. The loss was what some people call a good loss. So, yes, you're feeling good because what transpired bodes well for the Raiders' future.
Well, hold the phone. There is no such thing as a good loss. There never ever is a good loss. And very little that happened concerning the Raiders' defense bodes well for the future or the present or the past, if you want to go back that far.
Let's be clear about things. The Raiders scored enough points to win — 32 is sufficient, or should be. And although Carson Palmer threw a killer pick late in the game to Ahmad Black — Palmer threw three total — and although he continues, week by week, to embrace his inner Steve DeBerg, he was not the problem. Nor was he the reason the Buccaneers scored a bloated 42 points. We're talking bloat to the max.
The defense was the problem, has been for years. To be specific, the run defense is, was and will be the problem until the Raiders get serious. The Raiders run defense is what you call a bloat enabler.
Don't get me wrong. There are many things to criticize on the Raiders, but the run defense comes first. If a team cannot stop the run, everything else is available to the opposing offense. Everything.
And everything certainly was available to the Bucs runners. Tampa Bay ran for — get this for bloat — 278 yards. Rookie running back Doug Martin ran for 251 yards on his own and averaged 10 yards a carry.
Are you kidding me?
He ran for four touchdowns of 45 yards, 67 yards, 70 yards and one pee wee of one yard. He would get the ball and burst through the line of scrimmage where no one bothered to hit him. As he burned past the line, he certainly noticed a lack of Raiders linebackers — maybe they were out getting Big Macs at the time. And then he ran and ran while the defensive backs flailed around like clowns at the circus.
You could accurately say the Raiders' defensive line and line backing corps (corpse?) exhibited the tensile strength of: A) a wet noodle, B) wet Kleenex, C) wet sand, D) all of the above.
After the game, someone asked coach Dennis Allen why the run defense was the pits?
“We didn't tackle well,” he explained.
Somehow, we already knew that.
Well, how can the defense tackle better?
“We're going to have to work on it,” the coach said.
You want to know what's funny about the Raiders' terminally crummy run defense? Not funny, ha-ha, but funny weird, strange, incongruous. One of the themes leading up to the Tampa game was how Oakland's run defense has improved.
Which proves a theme does not equal a fact.
So, here's the deal. As soon as possible, the Raiders need to get rid of their run-defense wimps — if you want to be blunt about this you might call them the run frauds, the guys who don't stick their nose into the chaos, the guys who no longer sell out their bodies to knock down a running back.
The primary run wimps on the Raiders are linemen Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, and linebacker Rolando McClain — the guys in the middle.
Seymour is the worst offender — perhaps the worst defender, too — well, he's the worst offender of the defenders because he has the biggest name, the biggest (most bloated) reputation, and he never has come through for the Raiders, never has been the rock against the run, although he has been good at pulling hair and sneak-punching opponents.
I single out Seymour because he is symbolic of what's wrong with the Raiders, symptomatic of a longstanding bad culture that needs to be excised. But the problem goes way beyond him. Being dreadful against the run takes a team effort and shows a real commitment by the organization to horrendousness. Whatever happened to a commitment to excellence?
The Bucs' Martin didn't merely gain yards against the Raiders — the word “gain” is so insufficient to convey what he did. He devoured yards, consumed yards, gulped them down like a beer drinker in a chugalug contest. I don't believe tackling dummies could have done any worse than the Raiders' defenders, especially Seymour, and to the best of my knowledge tackling dummies are not alive.
And I don't believe tackling dummies, who are not known to conduct interviews, could have done any worse than the Raiders big-three run wimps after the game. After I sat through Allen's postgame news conference, I dashed into the locker room which felt like a morgue. You expected to smell embalming fluid.
Incredibly, Seymour, Kelly and McClain already had left, almost surely setting a land-speed record for getting the hell out of there. There is a concept — a worthwhile concept — known as a “standup guy.” Maybe when the Raiders get rid of certain players, they'll replace them with players who can tackle, with players who, when things go badly, have the courage to stand up.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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