Instant Replay: Run defense gutted in loss to Bears

Allen: 'I don't think Matt played well'

Instant Replay: Run defense gutted in loss to Bears
August 23, 2013, 9:45 pm
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Michael Bush and Matt Forte combined for 95 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

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OAKLAND -- The Raiders run defense was largely untested entering Friday’s preseason game against Chicago.

It certainly was in a 34-26 loss to the Bears at Oakland Coliseum, and the run defense failed miserably. The front seven couldn’t handle running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush, who ran at will both inside and outside the tackles.

Bush and Forte combined for 95 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. They averaged 5.9 yards per carry and were rarely stopped for a short gain.

Those numbers aren’t good, and they don’t include Forte’s 32-yard touchdown reception, where he turned a short pass into a big gain by running right through the Raiders defense.

The Raiders front seven hasn’t played together much this camp, and still isn’t intact. Defensive tackle Pat Sims, who returned to practice on Wednesday but didn’t play while recovering from a hamstring injury, remains out.

There was enough talent on the first unit to slow the run game, and it didn’t happen. It was a major reason why Chicago scored 27 unanswered points to start the game.

The Raiders have had trouble setting edges and containing backs on the interior. Despite emphasizing that in practice this week, the Raiders showed no improvement on outside runs.

Offensively, quarterbacks were the main story (Pryor’s briefly discussed below, but keep an eye out for a game rewind that will provide full details on that) and a competition for the starting spot is officially on. Simply put: Matt Flynn didn’t play well. Terrelle Pryor did.

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out over the final few weeks of the preseason.

McFadden scratched: Raiders running back Darren McFadden didn’t play against Chicago due a shoulder injury suffered last week against the Saints. He practiced during the week, but the Raiders didn’t want to risk him doing further damage. Rashad Jennings started in his place.

For starters: The first unit offense struggled with Matt Flynn under center. The presumptive starter -– entering Friday’s game, anyway -– was 3-for-6 passing for 119 yards. He also had two interceptions, including one on his final pass of the night.

His struggles leading the team, and the offensive line’s difficulty protecting the passer, leaves backup Terrelle Pryor as a legitimate option to start.

The offensive line protected better, although they were far from perfect. Alex Barron remains a weak link at left tackle, but the interior line fared better with Lucas Nix at right guard and Tony Bergstrom at left guard. There were still too many penalties from the offensive front, but they weren’t as bad as last week against New Orleans.

Defensive tackle Vance Walker didn’t help the interior run defense in his Raiders debut and end Lamarr Houston wasn’t a factor in his first game of the preseason.

Premium reserves: Quarterback Terrelle Pryor started a quarterback controversy by giving a listless offense a spark. He accounted for 20 points, including a 19-yard touchdown pass and a 25-yard touchdown run.

Pryor was firmly cemented in the backup role, but his play may have changed that. Flynn couldn’t get much going in the first half, and certainly doesn’t have the speed or athleticism to make the plays Pryor made during his time in this game. He kept plays alive by scrambling, correctly identified blitzes and knew when to run.

All told, Pryor was 7-for-10 passing for 93 yards and a touchdown and rushed four times for 37 yards and a touchdown.

Running back Rashad Jennings played with the first unit with McFadden out. He rushed 12 times for 35 yards, totaling a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. That’s not good enough for someone backing up an injury-prone rusher like McFadden.

Rookie report: Linebacker Sio Moore continues to grow as an all-around player. He makes big plays, including a tackle for a loss and levied pressure on Joselio Hanson’s third-quarter interception. … Tight end Mychael Rivera has become a receiving threat on the first team. He’s a bit small to be a steady blocker, but he runs routes well, gets open and seems to have the trust of his quarterbacks. … Outplayed throughout camp by Rivera, tight end Nick Kasa had a 19-yard touchdown catch.

On the bubble: Josh Cribbs' job wasn’t safe heading in to Friday’s game. It’s on shakier ground now. He didn’t have a good kick return, and fumbled on his second try. Then Jacoby Ford brought the next kickoff back 62 yards. Not a good sequence for a veteran who has lacked burst and pure speed during this training camp.

He had major knee surgery this offseason and hasn’t looked like the home run hitter of seasons past. If the Raiders like Ford or someone younger in the return game, Cribbs tenure will be short.

Quarterback Matt McGloin, fighting for a job as the No. 3 quarterback, didn’t fare well. He threw two sloppy interceptions, and now has three picks in the last two games. He rebounded positively on the next drive, which ended on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Andre Holmes.

Rookie Tyler Wilson did not play in the game.

Ryan Robinson and David Bass are in a fight for a roster spot -– the loser is likely headed for the practice squad -– and both played well in the second half. The undersized pass rushers had their moments against the Bears.

Hayden’s debut Rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden played his first professional game on Friday night, seeing his first action since rupturing a blood vessel in November at a University of Houston practice, and made it through just fine.

[RELATED: Hayden makes it through debut]

He made an early tackle and made heavy contact with running back Matt Forte and walked away no worse for wear. He started the game and played three quarters with the first unit.

Injury update: Receiver Rod Streater was shaken up on a reception and left the game under his own power. He suffered a head injury and did not return. McFadden (shoulder) was a late scratch.

Sitting it out: The Raiders didn’t play injured or recently healthy players. DT Pat Sims, DL Brandon Bair, LB Kaluka Maiava, OT Menelik Watson, McFadden, SS Tyvon Branch, LB Miles Burris and WR Juron Criner didn’t play against Chicago.

What's next: The Raiders will prepare for Thursday’s game at Seattle from their headquarters in Alameda after nearly a month training in Napa. They’ll trim the roster from 90 to 75 on Aug. 27 with the first of two cuts.