It was an awful day all around for the Raiders on Sunday in Chicago, but among a host of issues, tackling of defense may have been Vegas’ most glaring shortcoming.
Notably, a clip of cornerback Marcus Peters lightly touching a Bears ball carrier as he ran by was highlighted on the TV broadcast and shared on social media — and that wasn’t the only such example from Sunday’s game. Still, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham sidestepped questions about his players’ effort, or apparent lack of it, and put the blame on himself.
“Last week, again it starts with me, first and foremost. I don’t think I did a good job putting them in the right spots, and it was just a bad result,” Graham told reporters on Tuesday after he was asked about his group’s effort.
“I know this: we’re working hard right now upstairs in the classroom, the coaches; we’re going to work hard when the players get back tomorrow in terms of trying to rectify the situation, and that’s the main focus right now.”
The Raiders defense appeared off-balance all afternoon in Chicago, so it’s no surprise to hear Graham say he didn’t call a great game. As most NFL observers know, the Bears started a rookie quarterback, Tyson Bagent, who hadn’t played football since he suited up for Division II Shepherd University. While it’s embarrassing for Las Vegas to lose to such an inexperienced player, there was minimal NFL film of Bagent to study, which only makes game planning more difficult.
Graham said it’s time to learn and move on and prepare to face the Lions on Monday Night Football.
“You can’t spend too much time on the week before. You’ve got to learn from it, and then you’ve got to move on. We’ve got another opportunity and thankfully it’s Monday night against the Detroit Lions and a chance against a really good team. It’s going to be a really big challenge.”
Graham also faced a question about Peters specifically, but he refused to single out his veteran cornerback.
“There were several plays, whoever it is, that we want back. Whenever the result is what it was, I mean, 30-12, there are a lot of plays that everybody wants back,” Graham said. “There are calls I want back. So, to single out a person in a result like that, I’m not with that. That’s just not me.”
On one hand, it’s admirable that Graham wouldn’t single out his player — at least to the media. On the flip side, it’s obviously not ideal to have so many poor plays and poor calls to clean up, especially as Las Vegas prepares for their toughest test in weeks against a quality Lions team.
The Lions offense thrives on toughness, so Graham’s defense has to reemphasize their tackling in practice this week and then show they’re up to the task moving forward. Ideally for Graham and the entire Raiders organization, their terrible overall performance in Chicago was the low point of the season and not a sign of things to come.