Oakland went into the season wanting to be a shut-down defence but seven weeks into the season, it resembles something more of a bend-but-don’t-break-if-we-are-lucky group.
The addition of Bruce Irvin was meant to free up Khalil Mack to fill his belly with sack lunches but that hasn’t happened. Sean Smith coming over from Kansas City was meant to beef up the cornerback room but he has been poor and at times benched.
However, all isn’t that bad. The D ranks sixth in the league regarding takeaways so they are making plays, some of it in crucial moments. However, the team ranks 24th in the league on defence and are giving away a ton of yards every week.
According to Pro Frootball Focus: “David Amerson has given up the third-most receiving yards this season but he’s also tied for the league lead with nine combined interceptions and pass breakups. Teammate Sean Smith has allowed the most receiving yards this season, with 414, but the 98-yard touchdown he gave up in Week 1 somewhat skews that metric compared to his overall performance.”
Granted, they have played Drew Brees and Matt Ryan who have torched pretty much every team they have faced this season. They may have held the Jags and Titans to 16 and 10 points respectively but they gave up 34 points to the Saints, 35 to the Falcons, 27 to the Ravens and 31 to the Chargers.
Looking at the yards from some of those games, Brees went for 423 yards, 4 TDs and a 131.3 passer rating. Ryan (396 yards, 3 TDs, 131.5 rating), Flacco (298 yards, 1 TD, 83.7 rating) and Mariota (214 yards, 2 ints, 46.8 rating).
There has been a slight improvement which makes sense as this is a new defence still learning how to play with each other and in a few weeks may look completely different as they continue to gel. However, they need to get there fast if they hope to stay atop of the AFC West.
They still have Mario Edwards Jr to come back and they may even have Aldon Smith but that’s for a whole other article. The point remains that this is still a group in its infancy and the coaching staff are still working out how to get the best out of it.
At times, the defence has looked unprepared, especially against Atlanta and the Chiefs and that can’t continue to happen.
Mack and Smith need to get back to the form they had last year. Reggie Nelson needs to step up and rookie Karl Joseph needs to continue making positive gains as he finds his feet in the NFL.
This is a talented group and once they click, will be a force to be reckoned with. Let’s just hope they click sooner rather than later.