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Seymour has been a better fighter than football player in 2012
Squint your eyes, and it really looks like Chuck Bresnahan's defense of 2011. The Raiders have had their same usual problems on defense.
First and foremost, after an encouraging opening week against San Diego, they have given up 469 yards in the last three games, an average of 156.3 per game. Because Oakland's defense is built off of the production of the front four, the inability to stop the run has a double negative for the team.
The first negative is the obvious: If you can't stop the run, you can't force a team into predictable situations defensively. But secondly, the Raiders have been on the field for big chunks of the second half in every game, and they have wilted. Not surprisingly then, the Raiders have been outscored 81-31 by their opponents after halftime.
The second negative is the pressure that is then forced upon the offense to score. In every game this year, Carson Palmer has been forced to throw, and throw almost exclusively. In one game, he was able to win. But that type of formula is probably going to result in a lot more losses and blowouts than late game wins.
The three leaders of the Raider defense were supposed to be Richard Seymour, Rolando McClain and Tyvon Branch. All three have played sub-par football from where I sit. Seymour has a sack in four games, not much of a surprise (he is not a dominant sack artist). But there have been games when he has simply disappeared.
In fairness, Seymour often commands a double team, which, theoretically, would open up opportunities for the highly-paid Tommy Kelly. Instead, Kelly has as many sacks as I do. Worse, he continues to play undisciplined football, as evidenced by his two offside penalties that resulted in a San Diego score in the opener.
With McClain, it has been a lot simpler in my eyes: He is simply not a 4-3 linebacker. McClain is not quick enough to make up big chunks of ground, and too often, gets beaten by backs and tight ends in space. What he does in organizing the defense is lost because frequently, he is the weak link in the middle of the field. He has 24 total tackles, but has been beaten twice or more in the last three weeks.
Worst of all, when the game starts to get away, you see a visual decrease in effort (i.e. his "jogging" towards ball-carriers). I would not be shocked to see him gone much like JaMarcus Russell after three years.
Tyvon Branch's problems are not so much about effort, but skill set. Branch is a safety that plays best in the box. When he gets matched up against tight ends, he is usually beaten. His deficiencies are part of a much larger problem.
Through the first four games, the Raiders have zero interceptions. Quite simply, there are no playmakers in the secondary, which is an extension of the fact that there are no play makers in the front seven. That, combined with the same porous run defense, adds up to a team that will struggle stopping anyone.