ALAMEDA — It’s the run defense one game, the pass defense the next and the running game almost every week that is holding the Oakland Raiders back.
The problems keep mounting almost as fast as the point total for the opposition.
A week after being gashed on the ground by Doug Martin and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Raiders were taken apart through the air by Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens in a 55-20 loss Sunday that matched a franchise worst for points allowed in a game.
“That outcome was unacceptable,” coach Dennis Allen said Monday. “We have to be better than that.”
After overhauling the defensive system in the offseason and bringing in the team’s first defensive-minded head coach in decades, the Raiders (3-6) are on pace to allow the most points in franchise history.
They have allowed at least 40 points in back-to-back games for the first time in a half-century and the 97 points over the past two weeks are the second-most in a two-game span in team history.
“I wish there was a magical answer,” Allen said. “I know everybody wants a magical, ‘This is the solution,’ but at the end of the day, and I’ve said this over and over, it’s about us doing our job the right way every single time. And when we develop that consistency, when we’ve had that consistency, we’ve played well in all three phases. But that’s the key to having success.”
The Raiders spent most of the week trying to fix a run defense that allowed 278 yards the previous week in a 42-32 loss to Tampa Bay. They did a good job slowing down Ray Rice, holding him to 35 yards on 13 carries, and allowed just 2.8 yards per carry overall.
It didn’t matter much as Flacco repeatedly found tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson open over the middle and connected on two deep touchdowns to Torrey Smith as the Ravens easily picked apart the Oakland secondary.
“It’s just amazing,” defensive end Andre Carter said. “The week before, we didn’t stop the run. This week we stopped the run. Great progress. Especially with Rice because Rice is a heck of a back. So it’s like, ‘OK, good.’ Pass is the issue. Oh, my gosh.”
Now they need to fix the pass defense quickly with Drew Brees and the rapidly improving New Orleans Saints coming to town this week.
Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said the problems Sunday were as simple as players not being in the right position or executing the calls properly and the answers are right there on the game film.
As bad as the beating felt on the field, Kelly said it only got worse when he went home and was drilled by his 8-year-old son about what went wrong during the game.
“It kind of wears you down after you turned the corner and you’re going in the right direction,” Kelly said. “Like my dad always told me, ‘Just put your head down and keep working. Keep working and something good is going to come out of it.’ That’s all I can do at this point because it’s mind-boggling to me, personally.”
Allen said he believes there is enough talent on the roster to succeed even though the team he inherited had problems with depth because of salary cap constraints and few available draft picks.
The players went into the year excited about a new defensive system that offered more variety than the strict man-to-man philosophy advocated by longtime owner Al Davis for so many years before his death last year.
Allen, in his first head coaching job at any level, has already tinkered with the running game during the season, utilizing more power schemes than the zone blocking concepts the team started the season with to help get struggling starter Darren McFadden back on track.
There was some success with that change before McFadden went down with a sprained right ankle against Tampa Bay. Allen would not rule out changes defensively as well.
“Everything we do is in a constant evaluation,” he said. “But I’m not going to stand up here and say we’re making wholesale changes. We’re going to look at every aspect of what we do, offensively, defensively and the kicking game, and if we feel changes need to be made, we’ll make those changes.”
NOTES: McFadden and Mike Goodson remain in walking boots for their sprained right ankles and their status this week remains in question. DT Richard Seymour is in a similar situation with a hamstring injury. … Backup LB Travis Goethel has a torn ACL in his left knee and will be out for the rest of the season. … TE Brandon Myers and S Matt Giordano have concussions and are going through the protocol. … RT Khalif Barnes is on target to return to the starting lineup this week for the first time since injuring his groin Sept. 16.