Oakland Raiders Run Defense Issues Arise After Loss to Titans

Heneli IongiAnalyst ISeptember 13, 2010

Chris Johnson on a 76 yard breakout run for a TD.
Chris Johnson on a 76 yard breakout run for a TD.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Many of the Raider Nation know me as a Chargers fan.  I've had many debates during the offseason with Raider fans about how well their offseason went, and I believe it went good.  I did mention to not expect too much on the run defense being fixed, but many refuted my findings. 

It is rather interesting after all the "hooplah" that was made during the offseason in Oakland, the same question that haunted the Raiders last season seem to have arise from the ashes.  That question is whether the run defense have improved.  

The Raiders did some serious searching for answers to fixing this problem on the defense. They drafted Rolando McClain from Alabama in the first round.  They drafted Lamarr Houston from Texas to play not defensive tackle, but defensive end. 

You'd figure that by drafting players from college defenses' that were top in the nation in run defense, it would be a clear sign that the Raiders were going in the right direction. McClain came from Alabama, where they were No. 2 in the nation in run defense and haven't allowed a single 100-yard rusher in two seasons. 

Houston came from Texas, where they were ranked No. 1 in run defense that limited opposing offenses' to 62.9 rushing yards a game.  Where did they go wrong?

The Raiders also added free agents unto the roster to bolster their run defense by picking up John Henderson, Quentin Groves, and Kamerion Wimbley.  I've contested all offseason long that although Henderson, Groves, and Wimbley are great additions, it don't mean that their run defense will be fixed. 

Both Henderson and Groves came from the Jaguars where they ranked 19th in run defense.  Wimbley came from the Browns where their run defense was ranked 28th in the league.  I know it isn't a fair indication of how to measure a player as run defense is a team effort but how can anyone expect these players to do any better when they're coming from a weak run defense to bolster another weak run defense?  

You'd figure that with all these additions on the defense to help fix the Raiders defense, the run defensive should have improved right?  Right.  

There is no team to test the run defense against than the first game of the season for the Raiders than facing the Titans in a away game.  Does the Titans have a passing game? Nope.  Definitely not behind the arm of Vince Young.  So the key is to just simply the stop the run.  Easier said than done.

Here is a scary stat.  Chris Johnson had 27 carries, for 142 rushing yards, 2 TDs, and averaged 5.3 yards per carry.  The Titans backup running back, Javon Ringer, had 5 carries for 33 rushing yards, 1 TD, and averaged 6.6 yards per carry.  Add in Vince Young, who also had 7 rushes for 30 yards, and it's just insult to injury.  

Let's be frank.  The Titans put on 205 rushing yards against the Raiders defense.  With that type of rushing attack by the Titans, it made the Raiders defensive mindset think about the run so much that they gave up passing yards to Vince Young.  The Titans rushing attack made Young look good in the passing game as he complete 13 out of 17 passes for 154 yards and 2 TDs.  

The Raiders run defense did play well.  The problem was they gave up big plays as Young had a 20-yard run, Ringer had a 15-yard run, and Johnson ripped a 76-yard run for a TD. The Raiders run defense played very sound football and it was those big runs that happen every so often that kills the Raiders.  

You take away those runs and the Titans would only have 94 rushing yards for that game. If 94 yards rushing was all the Titans would have had, it's safe to say that Vince Young would have NEVER passed for two touchdowns with the Raiders pass defense shutting it down since the running game would have never happened.  

But oh well, the game was loss for the Raiders due to the lack of run defense.  Let's just hope the lack of run defense had more to do with the elite ability of Chris Johnson breaking long runs at any given moment.  I'm pretty sure the defense would play outstanding against lesser running backs than Chris Johnson and there aren't many as good as Johnson.  

Look to the Raiders to be more discipline in stopping the running game.  They are going to bounce back from this as the Raiders run defense will be tested again, this time against a back that is not the flashier type like Chris Johnson, but against a power back in the form of Rams running backSteven Jackson. 

It'll be interesting to see how well they do against this type of back as the Raiders again will get to see whether those past issues will come back to haunt them.