Defenses no longer offensive

NFL writer Jerry McDonald

Posted by NFL Editor and ANG football writer Jerry McDonald
No more excuses about the rules being tailor made for offense.

The Raiders looked to be improved on defense in their season-opening loss to New England, but based on the way much of the rest of league looked in Week 1, you wonder if they’ll be improved enough.

The last two nights of prime time football featured four excellent defenses in Indianapolis, Baltimore, Atlanta and Philadelphia. The Miami Dolphins took apart Denver. Even the San Francisco 49ers had seven sacks.

In an era supposedly devoid of good tackling, all four teams had both sure indivdual tacklers as well as the ability to get several men to the ball. All four defenses were extremely quick – something the Raiders promised to be but only partly delivered in their loss to the Patriots.

Look for Kirk Morrison, the San Diego State rookie by way of Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High, to see his role increased even if the team isn’t playing in a nickel defense. He provides the kind of pursuit and skill the Raiders desperately need.

Oakland simply must mount more of a consistent rush Sunday night against the statuesque Trent Green. While an extremely competent thrower, Green is no Tom Brady when it comes to footwork, both in getting rid of the
ball or sidestepping pressure.

Falling into coverage with a minimal push and expecting Derrick Gibson and Stanford Routt to hold up would be as disasterous as it was in the first half against Brady.

Perspective takes a holiday
The one-week bandwagon is rolling like a 500-horsepower Weber on wheels in barbecue country.

The Chiefs crushed the New York Jets 27-7, revving up the local media. Kansas City trampled the Jets with Priest Holmes (22 carries, 85 yards) and Larry Johnson (9 carries, 110 yards) doing most of the damage. Joe Posanski, an excellent columnist from the Kansas City Star, noted that if the two runners can share the same stage, “they might turn the NFL upside down,” and noted, “the NFL has never seen anything quite like this duo.’

Columnist Jason Whitlock, another fine columnist, described rookie linebacker Derrick Johnson as “looking like a young Derrick Thomas.’’

While everything was rosy in Kansas City, things were dire in New York.

The Newsday account reported that “the Jets’ vision of being a Super Bowl contender appeared to have gone up in smoke.’’ From some of the e-mails I’ve received, plus scouring message boards on a few sights, you’d think the Raiders have already been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention – after losing two a two-time defending world champion on the road.

Only football engenders this type of reaction. It happens becuase there is a week between games, and there are only 16 of them. Each results is roughly 10 games in a baseball season. A two-game winning streak is a 20-game winning streak. A quarterback in a two-game slump is in a 20-game slump.

With that in mind, the Raiders are in trouble Sunday night. Rumor has it the Chiefs have the best running back tandem since Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung and their best defense since Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell played linebacker.

All that said, Oakland badly needs to show something against the Chiefs Sunday night or risk the possibility of another lost season.

More on that in a column to run in ANG Newspapers Wednesday.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer