'It wasn't perfect,' but Raiders defense made strides vs Jags

'It wasn't perfect,' but Raiders defense made strides vs Jags

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Raiders defense got embarrassed by Kansas City last week, in front of home fans. That loss to the Chiefs was a boiling point for the NFL’s worst defense, which came under scrutiny for a string of poor performances.

Players weren’t happy allowing yards and points by the bushel, playing in contrast to what they considered great potential.

“Everybody had a bad taste in their mouth,” Khalil Mack said.

The Jacksonville Jaguars were cool mint Scope.

The Raiders defense got right in Sunday’s 33-16 victory at EverBank Field against an offense unable to move the ball downfield. Their 344 yards allowed, while not great, was a season low. Most of that sum came in garbage time, with just 201 yards allowed through three quarters.

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was sacked once, hit five times and flustered most of the afternoon.

“You could see him smacking his thighs, throwing his head down and his hands up,” cornerback David Amerson said. “I could see that the front seven did a good job harassing him the whole time, getting him out of the pocket. I think we did a good against him.”

While Raiders gave up chunk yards on the ground, they stood tall at important times.

They had two interceptions. The Jaguars were 4-for-13 on third down, just 1-for-4 in the red zone and didn’t cross the goal line for roughly 54 minutes.

“It was huge for us to come out and hold it down on defense,” Mack said. “It was huge for us to get the win.”

Mack came up with a big third-down sack. David Amerson intercepted a pass in the end zone and former Jaguars draft pick Reggie Nelson got Bortles late in the fourth quarter with an opportunistic pick.

“We definitely made him move around a little bit and brought him down a couple times,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I thought the coverage was a lot better. We gave up some yards in garbage time late, but we were pretty solid throughout the day. I thought the defense played better.”

Detractors will say the Raiders defense looked better against a moribund Jaguars attack ranked low in scoring, total offense and rushing yards. That unit can only play the next opponent on the schedule, and they looked better than in recent weeks in key areas where the Raiders struggled in recent weeks.

They didn’t leave Jacksonville acting like every problem has been fixed. “We came out and played aggressive football on defense,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “Guys were in their gaps, communicated and it really showed today.”

“It’s a step. It wasn’t perfect,” Amerson said. “There are definitely things we can work on and improve, but we moved in the right direction. We got the win and we limited their offense from what they wanted to do. It’s something we can grow from.”

Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection


Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection

The Raiders entered this free agency period needing defensive help throughout the depth chart. They signed presumptive starters earlier in this veteran acquisition process, but didn’t stop there.

The Silver and Black have added depth this week especially, signing a key cog in linebacker Emmanuel Lamur on Wednesday afternoon.

Lamur spent the last two years in Minnesota and the previous four in Cincinnati with new Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Guenther was his position coach from 2012-13 and his DC from 2014-15. He also knows Raiders linebackers coach David Lippincott from the Bengals days

Lamur has primarily been a reserve, but Guenther gave him an opportunity to start in 2014. He had 59 tackles and two interceptions in 13 starts that year as a strongside linebacker.

The Raiders have options at that spot, but no firm starter at this stage if Bruce Irvin plays defensive end full time.

Lamur hasn’t played much defense the last two years, but is known as a quality special teams contributor. The Raiders have signed several of those players in an attempt to improve coverage and returns.

All told, the Raiders have signed 14 unrestricted free agents with a shot to make the 53-man roster since last week began. The roster will turnover significantly in Jon Gruden’s return to the Raiders, and it’s possible he signs more players in coming days.

The Raiders are still looking for upgrades at receiver, and might add another bargain defensive lineman.

Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders

Ndamukong Suh won’t meet with the Raiders, after all. The star defensive tackle cut Alameda out of his free-agent tour, according to NFL Network, choosing instead to head home after stops in New Orleans, Tennessee and the L.A. Rams.

NFLN reports that Suh had dinner with Rams coach Sean McVay on Tuesday night, and was due in Oakland the following day. The Rams made a solid impression

Suh is reportedly mulling options from all three aforementioned playoff teams, all of which have more working salary-cap space and other stalwarts along the defensive line.

That’s surely a disappointment for the Raiders, who have had interest in Suh dating back to his last free-agent experience in 2015. The Silver and Black couldn’t afford him then. It seems unlikely they can afford him now, with precious little salary-cap space remaining after being active in free agency’s second wave.

The Raiders also hope to lock Khalil Mack up long-term with a massive extension this offseason.

It’s uncertain at this stage whether player or team cancelled the meeting, or exactly why it was called off. The Raiders could still sign a veteran defensive tackle, and/or acquire one early in the NFL Draft.