For the third straight preseason game the Raiders’ defense was a mess, especially in the trenches where New Orleans dominated the line of scrimmage, gave quarterback Drew Brees enough time to pass for 179 yards and two touchdowns in less than 19 minutes, and paved the way for yet another unheralded and unknown running back to gash Oakland on the ground.
The end result? A 45-7 thumping that was the Raiders’ worst preseason loss since a 52-13 loss to Dallas in 2003.
“Effort is one thing, but we just didn't put it together,” Ellis said afterward. “It wasn't like
you could say, Well, they couldn't run the ball (or) they couldn't throw the ball. We just struggled in all aspects of defensive football. Obviously, we're not going to create a new defense; we're in this thing now. We have to get on ourselves and say, ‘hey, I've gotta do better.’^"
The Raiders gave up 232 rushing yards to the Saints, 95 of them by Lynell Hamilton who has played in all of one regular season game during his NFL career. Hamilton and rookie P.J. Hill, who had 83 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, ripped huge holes through Oakland’s defense and were rarely touched all afternoon.
It’s the same pattern the Raiders showed against Dallas and San Francisco. Through three games Oakland has surrendered 634 yards on the ground (211.3 per game) while allowing opponents to average 5.6 yards a carry.
“I felt like a lot of times we were getting up to the ball, getting set and they were still trying to get lined up,” Brees said. “I just felt like we accomplished what we wanted to there with regards to playing with our tempo and our intensity. We were able to get into a rhythm. When you walk away with three touchdowns on three possessions, that’s what you want to do.”
A week ago head coach Tom Cable challenged the defense to take the issues concerning the run defense personally. Cable said the players responded against New Orleans by getting in better position but still failed to make the plays.
“Very disappointing is the only way to put it,” Cable said after the loss to the Saints. “In terms of our performance and our ability, we’ve got guys there who can make plays that don’t make them. We’ve got guys who can wrap up but don’t. Just things like that. We’re not very sharp, not very detailed.
“Looking at it on the sidelines, we’ve got guys where they need to be this time; it’s just a matter of wrapping up and putting a face on them. Really, it was just a lack of real zip for us. Just not very good.”
Ellis agreed but said the players need to take a more serious, focused approach with the regular season drawing closer.
“You go back and look at it and you have people there to make it but it didn't get made,” Ellis said. “We have to make sure we're disciplined as a football team, getting the proper rest. Those things factor into football in a major way. Like Tom said, guys were in the right positions. We've got to make sure that we are committed to it ourselves. And I'm saying that meaning that we've got to make sure that, ‘Hey, I'm getting the proper rest.’ Guys, you can't stay out all night. Can't expect to come in here and just turn it on. This isn't high school or college football. This is the best of the best in the NFL. So you've got to do those small things that you maybe didn't have to do in college.”