Eddie Lacy wasn’t very nice to the Raiders run defense. The big, powerful Green Bay Packers running back beat up that starting unit, to the tune of nine carries for 50 yards and a touchdown.
He did all that in one series, over the course of a 14-play, 72-yard touchdown drive that made the Raiders defense look sheepish.
“We started a little slow, we weren’t getting off blocks and we weren’t tackling well,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Eddie is a good back. You’d better get your hat on him and you’d better get off blocks.
“We saw signs of it being a whole lot better as we went along. It’s just about doing a better job of what we do.”
Del Rio’s right. The Raiders first-unit defense buckled down after that first drive and forced four three-and-outs over their remaining five drives.
That certainly ranks as an improvement, even if Lacy was out after the opening sequence. Run defense is a team effort, requiring discipline and fundamental tackling to succeed. There wasn’t enough of that early on or over the course of a game where the Packers rushed 40 times for 145 yards and two scores.
“I can only assume we lost control of our gaps,” Raiders cornerback Sean Smith said. “I would have to watch film to confirm that, but you have to give those guys credit because they pretty much forced the ball down our throats. They had a high rushing total. You have to give those guys credit.”
The Raiders can’t control whom they face in these preseason, and there’s no telling how star players would change things over the course of a game.
Against top running backs thus far, the Raiders haven’t fared particularly well.
Assuming opponents primarily use two rushers, the Raiders have faced four solid running backs they’d likely deal with over the course of a regular-season game. They played David Johnson and Andre Ellington last week in Arizona, and dealt with Lacy and James Starks on Thursday night.
Those four rushers combined for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Not great. That’s 6.8 yards per carry, a significant sum that obviously can’t remain in the regular season and certainly doesn’t jive with how the Raiders hope to play on defense.
“(We want) to be a sound defense that stops the run,” Smith said. “That is always the goal. We will also need to prevent big plays down the field in the passing game. If we can do those things, we will be a very good defense. We obviously have some work to do, but this is preseason and no one is panicking, so we will just go back to work.”