After a terrible opening to the 2016 NFL season defensively, Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio is reportedly taking matters into his own hands.
According to Pat Kirwan, Jim Miller and Greg Robinson of the Real Football Network, he’s stripping play-calling responsibilities away from defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Additionally, “several starters” might sit this week when Oakland takes on the Tennessee Titans.
This is quite the seismic shift, especially this early in the season.
But for a team with lofty expectations like the Raiders — everyone’s sexy pick as an up-and-comer in 2016 — it’s a move that makes sense.
After all, Oakland has been abominable at attempting to stop teams from making big players through the air. And this is all the more maddening considering the extreme investments that were taken on during the offseason to shore up the defensive side of the ball.
Pass rusher Bruce Irvin was supposed to be an unstoppable force opposite Khalil Mack, who has inexplicably been dropping into coverage so far this season. Cornerback Sean Smith, safeties Reggie Nelson and rookie Karl Joseph were supposed to shore up the back end.
But clearly, things haven’t worked out the way they were supposed to on paper.
The Raiders' defense has been historically bad through two games pic.twitter.com/H2CEqY1mD4
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) September 23, 2016
Truly, that the Raiders cannot stop anyone is one of the most shocking early-season developments around the league.
Del Rio was a defensive coordinator for years, so maybe there is a chance he can make the necessary adjustments quickly enough to stop the bleeding.
If he cannot, then the Raiders will likely struggle to win half their games. While the offense is potent, it’s very hard to win games when giving up nearly 35 points per game — just ask the New Orleans Saints.