There is talent on the defensive side of the football in Oakland. There are a pair of former first-round picks manning the defensive end spots in Greg Ellis and Richard Seymour. Another pair of former first-round picks can be found in the secondary with cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and reserve safety Michael Huff.
Sure, the Oakland Raiders rank 31st in the league in total defense and 31st against the run. But Raiders head coach Tom Cable knows that the team's offense, which ranks last in the league, is putting the defense in too much of a bind.
"We've put our defense on the field too much at times," Cable said.
The Raiders average 9.8 points per game and are the only offense that has not generated at least 1,000 yards of offense this season. Oakland has another former first-round pick, in fact the No. 1 overall pick, in quarterback JaMarcus Russell. In his third season, Russell has completed 51-of-121 passes for 606 yards with one touchdown against four interceptions. Russell is an imposing presence at 6-6, 260 pounds and has a tremendous arm. However, he's been undone by his accuracy and pocket presence. He lost three fumbles last week in a 44-7 loss to the Giants.
Cable said that consistency is "the biggest issue right now" with Russell.
"I think he's still developing. We're trying to do everything under the sun to help him be more consistent," Cable said. "We've got two fine young receivers (in Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy). We've got a quality tight end here (Zach Miller). It's a matter of putting it together."
The Raiders fought hard in a tough 24-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers in a Week 1 matchup that was much closer than people expected. That was followed up by a late come-from-behind 13-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs which appeared to be the breakthrough for the Raiders. However, they've lost their last three games by 20, 23 and 37 points, respectively.
Last week against the Giants, Oakland went three-and-out on each of their first four offensive possessions. The Giants, meanwhile, scored touchdowns on each of their first four possessions. On the Giants' opening drive, they converted two third downs and scored on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
Despite the turn the season has taken, Cable believes that his group's performance is not a result of a lack of effort.
"It's a hard-working group," Cable said. "We're fighting our rear ends off everyday to have a breakthrough and get to where we want to as a football team."
Things may improve for Oakland. The Eagles just hope that it's not this week.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 7:20 a.m., October 17