Hue Jackson looks at his Raiders defense and says he wants to “build a bully” against the run.
So far, however, it’s been the same old story. Oakland’s run defense is a 98-pound weakling still trying to wipe the sand off its face.
Last week in the exhibition loss to the 49ers, the Raiders gave up 239 yards on the ground, an average of 5.8 yards per carry.
This, coming off consecutive seasons in which Oakland has ranked 29th , 29th, 31st and 31st in rushing defense, reports Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area Newspaper Group. Last season Oakland allowed 133.6 yards rushing per game. The Raiders haven’t been solid against the run since 2002 when they won the AFC championship, and first-year defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan – who also was on the staff in 2002 -- is vowing to get his unit back to that level.
“It starts with an attitude, an attitude we build from the beginning,” Bresnahan told reporters this week.
Says Richard Seymour, the former Patriots Pro Bowler whom the team brought in two years ago to help stuff opposing running backs: “That’s something that is dear to me. If you can’t stop the run, you aren’t going to be successful in this league.”
How to do it?
Well, this week much of practice was devoted to the topic, including a full-contact session on Tuesday, reported Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. Jackson and Bresnahan are preaching assignments, filling gaps and being physical.
Says linebacker Quentin Groves: “We’re getting there.”
The next pop quiz comes Sunday night against the Saints, who should provide a good test. New Orleans comes in with rookie Mark Ingram – the 2009 Heisman winner from Alabama -- veteran Pierre Thomas and ex-Charger speedster Darren Sproles.
Will the bully show up? Or the weakling?