In the first two games of this season, the Raiders defense held the Broncos and Chiefs to a combined 126 yards rushing.
In a 34-14 loss to the Vikings in Minnesota Sunday, Raiders defenders were shredded for 211 yards on the ground.
Dalvin Cook averaged 6.9 yards on 16 attempts, for 110 total yards, as the main culprit. Mike Boone had 28 yards on just three carries and Alexander Mattison averaged 4.8 yards on 12 carries.
The Raiders made a lot of changes to their defense this offseason and hoped for improvement. They found it in Game 1 in a victory over Denver, but lost it the past two games in losses to the Chiefs (who carved up the Oakland secondary) and Vikings (who did their damage on the ground).
In grading the Raiders’ performance in Minnesota, Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group gave Oakland an "F" for its run defense.
Wrote McDonald: "Harsh, but the Raiders had pointed to this game as a validation of a much-improved run defense. And they were legitimately stout the first two times out. It was a different story against the Vikings."
The Raiders’ linebacking corps has been hurt by injuries, but veteran linebacker Tahir Whitehead says the defense as a whole has to be better than it was against the Vikings.
"We just need to hold each other (and) ourselves accountable and make sure there aren’t any people feeling comfortable after this loss," Whitehead told Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. "There are a lot of things that need to be fixed. And unless we fix them, it’s going to be a long season. We experienced that last year, and I’m not trying to go through the same thing. There are a lot of guys on this team not trying to go through the same thing. And the only way you fix it is to just dig deeper."
The Raiders, 1-2, will travel to Indianapolis this week to take on the 2-1 Colts Sunday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.