The Oakland Raiders' first team defense has looked very suspect in the last two preseason games. Some of that is due to defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and head coach Dennis Allen not wanting to show their hand to offensive coordinators around the league.
“I think the play calling was in a progression of what we want to do and the progression is just like the install progression,” Tarver said. “We’re probably less than 50 percent in our progression of what we’ve shown. Some of these looks we’ll continue to show, some of these looks are step one and hopefully we can go to step two and step three quickly, and quicker than we were able to even a year ago.”
Tarver is known as an aggressive defensive play caller, who likes to bring extra pressure. The Raiders have shown very little blitzing this preseason because they are still trying to acclimate all the new players to the system. The only two returning starters from a season ago are strong safety Tyvon Branch and defensive end Lamaar Houston. Injuries have also played a big role in the vanilla defensive schemes. Throughout camp, the Raiders have dealt with injuries that included three of their four projected starting defensive linemen, several linebackers, who will contribute, and DJ Hayden, Tracy Porter and Branch in the secondary.
As a result of the injuries, learning curve, and base defense looks, the Raiders have struggled in the preseason. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints torched the defense for 23 points before the half and the Chicago Bears easily moved up and down the field, scoring 27 points before the half. Despite those poor performances, Tarver sees the good that came out of those games.
“It’s in the progression of learning and that’s why a lot of the things that happened are good that have happened,” Tarver said. “People learn, ‘I have to get down here faster if I’m an edge setting DB. ‘I have to move to the line of scrimmage earlier because it’s a tighter split, that way this blocker can’t get on me as fast.’ Or ‘I have to make sure that when I’m in this technique, I knock him back this direction instead of this direction because they got to my edge.’ Setting the edge, one of the things we’ve been talking about this week. Install wise it’s a progression, where we’re going to go. We have a few more things, a few.”
Don't expect the Raiders to show anymore in the preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks. They will try to keep their defensive plans a mystery until they travel to play Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts the following Sunday in the regular season opener. If they don't get it done when the games count, it will be a problem, but for now they are learning and identifying where they need to improve.
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