Raiders Week Three Linebacker Watch

Raiders linebacker Cory James
Aug 12, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker James Cowser (47) and Cory James (57) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it has been a few days since the shellacking at the hands of the Washington Professional Football Team. Overall, the defense performed better than the numbers suggest. While it wasn’t all bad, there were some clear missteps and communication breakdowns. Specifically, on third downs and goal line situations that cannot be repeated. More than anything this let down belongs to the whole team, as opposed to one specific player. Let’s take a look and see how they did.

Cory James

Overall, Cory James excelled. On a day where the secondary looked inconsistent at best and non-existent at worst, James flew over the field. He tallied 12 total tackles with six solo stops. Again, showed good range in coverage and notched two tackles for a loss. He played the run well, avoiding blocks and probably was the most consistent non-Khalil Mack defender on the defense. If he can continue to progress, the Raiders may have something legitimate at the weakside backer position.

Nicolas Morrow

Morrow had a rough day overall starting with the Red Zone blitz that turned into easy points for Washington. Granted, some of the blame should be shared by Reggie Nelson who struggled all game himself. On that play, either one of them must recognize the other is blitzing. However, Morrow needs to realize that the only reason Nelson is so close to the line is because he is going. Additionally, Morrow seemed frequently out of position or simply not even involved in the play. Every tackle he made was at least 5 yards down the field. It was clear that Washington picked on him.

Marquel Lee

Lee performed adequately. He had moments where you could see some of his closing speed. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear he isn’t even close to being ready to “quarterback” the defense. He often asked for clarification just before the snap and hasn’t shown a propensity for taking over the second level of the defense to this point. It will be interesting to see how he develops as his skill set seems best suited for an outside linebacker position. Yet, with Cory James as an incumbent it would be difficult to get snaps there.

Bruce Irvin

Slowly but surely Irvin’s play perked up a bit. While he still hasn’t posted a dominant performance, Irvin provided a big reason why the Washington rushing attack averaged just 3.4 yards a carry. He set the edge and forced plays back inside. He even had a nice run down of a screen (about the only one the Raiders defended well all night.) However, more will be required if Sunday was any harbinger of things to come.



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