The Raiders could not stop the Rams offense, unless Khalil Mack was in the back field disrupting the play.
In the second week of the preseason, the Raiders first-team defense played four series against the Rams first team offense. Oakland surrendered two touchdowns and a field goal; they forced one punt.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff completed 80 percent of his 20 passes for 160 yards and touchdown. While it was just a preseason game, those numbers are a big improvement from his 54.6 completion percentage and 5 to 7 touchdown to interception ratio from last season.
The only time the Rams didn’t come away with points was a direct result of Mack getting to the quarterback.
Khalil Mack fights through two TEs for the sack pic.twitter.com/ifEhYPwp37
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 20, 2017
That sack forced the Rams into a 3rd and 15 situation. Goff completed the pass, but Todd Gurley only picked up 12 yards and the Rams had to punt.
That is it; the only highlight for the Raiders defense in four drives. And Raiders defensive lineman Jihad Ward knows more playmakers have to show up.
“We have to do it together, there is no selfish acting. We all need each other. I think that’s the problem with people, people have a habit of thinking one man can do it all,” Ward said. “For instance, Khalil Mack. He’s a good [expletive] player. He’s the Defensive Player of the Year and all that, but he still needs us at the end of the day. He can’t do it by himself. We’re all we got, and that’s all we need.”
Ward did not play in the preseason game, as he just returned this week from a foot injury. But his observation, while obvious, is the key for the Raiders defense. They have to find more than one playmaker.
Bruce Irvin forced a team-high six fumbles last season, one more than Mack. Reggie Nelson had five interceptions. Eight other Raiders had an interception last season, but no one other than Nelson had more than two.
It was a defense that lived on turnovers. The Raiders surrendered the highest yards per play in the league last season. But they forced 21 fumbles and recovered 14 of those loose balls, both the second best numbers in the NFL. The Raiders also had 16 interceptions, good for ninth.
It was a defense that relied on big plays
With an offense as good as the Raiders are projected to be, a defense that forces turnovers at a high rate should be good enough to reclaim a playoff spot, as last year’s 12-4 team did. But with just Mack showing off play making skills, it may be more difficult than last season.
Tyler Bischoff hosts Coaches Corner on AM 720 KDWN Monday through Friday at 6:00 pm.