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Raiders’ defense not creating enough pressure

Updated October 6, 2020 - 1:22 pm

Among the issues facing the Raiders’ defense, the pass rush has been almost nonexistent.

The numbers are beyond bleak, resulting in quarterbacks standing tall in the pocket as they pick apart the secondary.

The downside is more than the Raiders surrendering 30 points per game (24th in the NFL); it’s that they can’t get off the field.

That certainly isn’t what the Raiders expected after committing so many draft picks to defense the last two years and investing heavily in free agency during last offseason.

For now, it appears Raiders coach Jon Gruden is not blaming defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. He said Monday he thought Guenther was “a good coach” and that the defense’s mistakes “are very correctable and will get corrected.”

The correction lies in more pressure on the quarterback, which begets turnovers.

The Raiders have forced two turnovers, ranking 30th in the league. And the turnovers they did create were more the product of ill-advised throws by Drew Brees and Cam Newton.

“We have to get the turnovers from our defense,” Gruden said. “That’s a big story here also. We’re not getting any turnovers.”

The numbers underscore how much the Raiders have struggled to generate pressure on the quarterback: According to Pro Football Reference, the Raiders’ 5.6 percent hurry rate on dropbacks is 25th in the NFL. Their 13.3 pressure percentage rate is 29th in the league.

They have four sacks — three by Maxx Crosby — which is last in the league. They have eight hurries, 27th in the NFL.

“It’s never good enough. Your pass rush is never good enough,” Gruden said. “Right now ours is not good enough.”

The primary blame rests with the Raiders’ front four. While coaches tend to dial up blitzes to increase the probability of creating a pass rush, the Raiders’ 17.5 percent blitz rate per dropbacks ranks 24th in the league.

Besides, the Raiders aren’t getting production from their key players:

— Despite his team-leading sack total, Crosby has managed four pressures and one hurry. He has just three tackles.

— Maliek Collins, whom the Raiders signed as a free agent, has four pressures and three hurries.

— And Cle Ferrell and Carl Nassib, a key reserve, have combined for one sack.

“We’re going to continue to work at making it better,” Gruden said. “Our guys did a good job being disciplined in not letting the quarterback escape and create second-reaction scramble plays.

“So that was a reason yesterday why the rush wasn’t as good as it could have been.”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore onTwitter.

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