OAKLAND -- The question isn't going away. In fact, it's only going to get louder and louder until someone steps up and silences the critics. Who is going to put pressure on the quarterback for the Oakland Raiders?
That's what happens when a franchise decides to trade an elite defensive player the week before the start of the regular season. There is a hole in the Raiders scheme and there isn't one man on the roster that can fill the tremendous hole left by All-Pro Khalil Mack.
In the team's season-opening 33-13 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams, Jared Goff sat back and picked the secondary apart. Without a pass rush pressuring the third-year pro out of Cal, he opened up the field with his arm. With the defense chasing, the Rams turned to star running back Todd Gurley to further complicate matters.
"When you can run the ball like they ran in the second half, it's very hard to rush the passer," Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. "Obviously, we didn't get to Goff enough and we didn't get to Gurley enough. We'll take a good look at the reasons why we didn't."
Bruce Irvin stepped up early, sacking Goff in the early second quarter and forcing a fumble. That was the last time the Raiders got to Goff the rest of the evening.
Ok Bruce I see you🔥🔥🔥— Khalil Mack (@52Mack_) September 11, 2018
"We knew we had to rush Goff and we couldn't give him too much time," Irvin said from his locker stall following the game. "I don't think we did a good enough job of putting a lot of pressure on him."
Irvin pointed to the Rams' offensive line stunting and using play action to take advantage of the Raiders' speed rushers. The Raiders defense only hit Goff twice the entire game, including the sack from Irving.
"We've got work to do," rookie defensive end Arden Key said. "We're going to see on the film. We didn't play good as a d-line. We missed some calls. Communication was bad. It's the first game."
Key had the only other QB hit recorded on the evening. If the Raiders have any chance against the Denver Broncos next week, they'll need to figure out how to break through and at least make Case Keenum move his feet.
In case the Raiders needed any reminder of what they gave up in a trade that yielded two future first round picks, Mack went off for the Bears in his debut on Sunday. After inking a six-year, $141 million deal with Chicago, the 27-year-old end picked up a sack, a fumble recovery and intercepted a ball and returned it for a touchdown in the Bears' heartbreaking 24-23 loss to the Packers on Sunday.