The Raiders were up 10-6 late in the second quarter of a Week 10 home game against Denver when C.J. Anderson struck.
The Broncos running back caught a pass in the flat and danced his way through the Raiders defense for a 51-yard touchdown. That started a run of five touchdowns on consecutive possessions and the end of an upset bid.
Go back and watch the replay. That play wasn’t all Anderson’s doing. The Raiders defense simply swung and missed. Miles Burris, Khalil Mack and Charles Woodson had a chance to bring him down quickly.
They couldn’t do so, and it wasn’t just a problem on that play. According to analysis by Pro Football Focus, the Raiders ranked among last year’s worst tackling teams. They were 29th, with 144 missed tackles in 1,157 defensive snaps. That isn’t surprising for a team ranked No. 21 in total yards but dead last in points allowed.
Safety Charles Woodson missed a team-high 20 tackles, but his efficiency was decent considering how much he was asked to do.
The same can’t be said for linebackers Miles Burris and Sio Moore. According to PFF, Burris missed a tackle every 7.4 attempts and was 32nd in that category among inside linebackers.
Moore is an athletic playmaker with solid range, but missed some opportunities as well. He missed a tackle every 7.2 attempts, which ranked him No. 22 among 28 4-3 outside linebackers with enough snaps to qualify.
Cornerback Tarell Brown was among the best as his position, with four missed tackles in 56 attempts.
New head coach Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. will certainly demand better – missed tackles turn small plays into big ones -- though a talent infusion could also assist in this regard.
Del Rio was a fundamentally sound player, and that’s something he demands as a coach.
“There’s an understanding of some of the fundamental beliefs that I believe are part of playing good football,” Del Rio said during his introductory press conference. “Some of that is so fundamental that it’s not exciting to talk about: being able to stack a block, shed a block, take the proper angle, pursue together, swarm together as a defense, tackle in the open field, get guys down, play from beginning to end with a mental fortitude that says we refuse to lose, we refuse to let people score.
"You work on those things day in and day out. It’s not one thing, there’s not a magic wand anybody can wave. It’s a process. We’re going to work hard on that starting today and moving forward.”