OAKLAND – The Raiders defense entered Sunday’s game dead last in yards allowed. Their 7.0 yards per play allowed was the worst by a country mile.
A 4-1 record, excellent third down defense and regular takeaways mitigated those issues, though players were worried they would haunt the Raiders down the road.
It wasn’t far down the pike. It came in a pivotal 26-10 home loss to Kansas City, one that muddled proceedings in the AFC West and dropped Oakland back into a tie for first in the division.
The defense got away with poor play and massive chunk yardage thanks to excellent third-down work and regular takeaways.
Those safeguards weren’t present Sunday, and a talented defense’s deficiencies were on full display.
“We’re not playing very well right now,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We’re capable of more. We have to teach it better and do it better. It’s nowhere near what it needs to be.”
Inconsistency seems to be the main culprit, in the players’ eyes at least. The defense has fixed some issues, but not all. That might be the maddening part.
“The biggest issue is attention to detail,” cornerback David Amerson said. “It is not the guys going out there getting (out-muscled) or beat on every play. It is little details and the (opposing) offense doing things that mess with our eyes and us not being in the right spots on those plays.
“Those little details can turn into big gains. That adds up at the end of the day.”
Del Rio didn’t hold back after the game, saying the Raiders got outplayed and outcoached. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. has come under fire after both losses. In the previous defeat against Atlanta, Del Rio said he took over some play-calling duties at the end.
That was not the case on Sunday.
“No, no,” Del Rio said. “Kenny’s got the headset.”
The Raiders defense was exposed with the offense struggling some, and it hasn’t proven it can win a game without significant help.
This was a big blow for a defense used to making a few big plays to keep the Raiders in it. That didn’t happen in a matchup the Chiefs offense controlled from the outset. They didn’t have a takeaway, allowed a 54 percent third-down conversion rate and allowed 183 yards on the ground.
“I can’t sit up here and make up any excuses for you all,” free safety Reggie Nelson said. “We just have to continue to reset our jaw and come back to work on Monday and get back after it.”
Edge rusher Bruce Irvin has been aggressive stating things must change quickly. They haven’t, after six games at least.
“I mean, it is frustrating,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. “But, I still believe in this group. We feel like we have a great group of guys. We are going to continue to work and turn this thing around.”