Raiders looking to eliminate big plays on defense
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Watching Nick Chubb score on a couple of long touchdown runs and Baker Mayfield burn his defense on long passes made Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther sick.
His defense, which was so good at preventing big plays during his tenure in Cincinnati, is getting repeatedly burned by them in his first season in Oakland and is a big reason why the Raiders are struggling so much this year.
“I told those guys that my expectations are way higher than this,” Guenther said Thursday. “If we can have teams going 12-, 14-play drives, get them in the red zone, hold them to three, that’s what we have to do. We can’t give up 60 yards on the grass where we can’t catch a player. It’s a matter of angles, a matter of speed to the ball to get the guy on the ground.”
The Raiders (1-3) haven’t been able to do that well enough so far this season, contributing to three straight losses to begin the year and a 42-point performance last week by the Cleveland Browns that they overcame by scoring 45 points and winning in overtime.
Chubb scored on runs of 63 and 41 yards for Cleveland. Mayfield threw a 49-yard touchdown pass and then had a 59-yarder that went down to the 1 to set up another score.
In all this season, the Raiders have allowed a league-worst five plays of at least 50 yards and are tied for second worst in the NFL by allowing 23 20-yard plays.
“We just have to eliminate the five or six plays per game that are dearly costing us,” coach Jon Gruden said. “That’s very uncharacteristic of our style of defense. We have to tackle better when we are in 1-on-1 situations. We have to eliminate the big plays.”
The Raiders are getting a boost in the secondary this week before they face longtime nemesis Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Rivers has more touchdowns and yards passing than any quarterback who has ever faced the Raiders.
But Oakland will get some help at cornerback with the return of Daryl Worley from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policies on substance abuse and personal conduct.
Worley has been practicing all week and is expected to be activated by Saturday to play against the Chargers. He will join a cornerback rotation that includes Rashaan Melvin, Gareon Conley and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie.
“Daryl is a seasoned guy,” Guenther said. “He was one of our best corners in the spring. When he got here in training camp, he’s a tough guy. He understands the different techniques we’re trying to teach. He understands the zone concepts we’re trying to teach and the man concepts we teach. It’s going to be a good added piece for us and a well-need piece.”
The Raiders signed Worley in April just days after he was arrested in Philadelphia and cut by the Eagles. Worley pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence, carrying firearms in public in Philadelphia and resisting arrest. That led to his suspension to start the season.
Worley was a third-round pick by the Panthers in 2016 and had 150 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions and 19 passes defensed in 31 games.
Worley has been able to take part in meetings the past four weeks but wasn’t allowed to practice and could only watch the games on television.
“We need to have more effort,” he said. “That’s all around, all 11 guys, whoever it is out there on the field no matter who it may be. We need to fly around like we were in training camp on defense. Having more fun with the game, not so much worrying about the game plan and what the offense may be doing. Just executing our techniques and things.”