OAKLAND -- The Raiders' defense has some major problems that can’t be fixed right now. These are deficiencies and personnel issues only rectified by draft picks or a free-agent influx, but coach Jon Gruden is trying to change things up and get better results.
He shuffled the deck before Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, leaving safety Reggie Nelson, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and linebacker Emmanuel Lamur inactive. He brought up linebacker Jason Cabinda from the practice squad, and inserted Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph into the secondary.
Gruden’s ol' college try didn’t work out well. Turns out he rearranged deck chairs on the Titanic.
The Raiders' defense gave up 42 points in a loss to the Colts, including four consecutive touchdown drives in the second half. Indianapolis punted one time. Once.
The Raiders hit Colts quarterback Andrew Luck one time. Once. The defense couldn’t cover tight ends, and allowed three of them to catch touchdown passes.
None of those things are good. but here’s something worse: The Colts were allowed to stay on the field so long that the Raiders' offense had to be near-perfect to keep pace in this high-scoring affair.
The Colts ran 71 plays. The Raiders ran 47, negating the effectiveness of averaging 7.4 yards per play.
“It’s been that way pretty much the entire season,” Gruden said. “Three possessions in the second half against the Chargers. We had three possessions in the second half against the Seahawks, and I think we had three possessions in the first half today. It just goes to show you we have a long way to go like I’ve been saying.”
The Raiders kept pace with the Colts for most of the second half, but a Doug Martin fumble knocked the Silver and Black off track. They weren’t able to recover, and eventually lost a second-half lead for the fourth time in six defeats.
“We don’t get many possessions, we don’t get the ball very often,” Gruden said. “I don’t think they ran out of gas. I just think defensively we have to take a long look at who can be out there and help us right now. We’re struggling.”
The Raiders' offense performed better than it had in weeks, with Derek Carr throwing strikes and Martin running strong. The offensive line played far better than it recently had.
No matter. The Raiders couldn’t keep up with so few bites at the apple.
“It was just a weird deal. It’s tough,” Carr said. “It makes us think as an offense -- when we get the ball, we have to score every time. We have to be perfect.
"That’s not a knock on anything at all, it is what it is. Some games are like that. Some games are about clawing to get six points to win the football game. You sit there and you watch, and it does make it tough.”