Raiders pass defense not concerned by slow start

Raiders pass defense not concerned by slow start
August 19, 2014, 1:45 pm
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Matt Cassel and Matthew Stafford completed 14-of-16 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns in three series. (USATSI)

ALAMEDA -- Starting quarterbacks have not been kind to the Raiders pass defense.

Minnesota’s Matt Cassel and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford have torched the back four, completing a combined 14-of-16 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns in three series, all of which ended in six points.

The first two preseason games have sent fans in search of the panic button, ready to write off this veteran group.

Head coach Dennis Allen prefers you slow your roll. Free safety Charles Woodson, who has been in good secondaries and bad, admits slight cause for concern.

“We started those games slow and allowed teams to go down the field and put up points,” he said. “As a defense, there is something to read into because when we come out in games, we have to come out and be ready to play and not allow big plays or allow a team march down the field.

“There is tiny bit of concern as far as that goes, but we feel confident about who we are as a team and what we’re going to be going into the season. So, we’re not circling the wagons or anything like that. We’re going to be all right.”

You have to see what the Raiders see to get that. You might have to banish Tarell Brown getting roasted by Golden Tate’s double move from your memory as well.

The secondary’s optimism comes from what they consider errors certainly fixable by the time games count.

“It’s small, simple mistakes that turn into big plays,” cornerback Carlos Rogers said. “It’s about the details. Not lining up exactly right, or getting a good jam on your receiver, missed tackles -- for example -- can get you in trouble. It’s nothing we can’t fix. It’s not that we’re not talented enough to compete.

“In some cases, it’s bad. In ours, I’m not too worried about it. You can see that we’re a good secondary. You can. There are just some things we need to clean up.”

Part of it is technique. The other part is learning to play together. Rogers and Brown are learning a new system. Woodson and Tyvon Branch are learning to play together, something they didn’t do after Branch was lost for the season in Week 2 with a fractured fibula.

That learning process will accelerate this week, when the Raiders mimic a regular-season schedule preparing for Friday’s exhibition against the Green Bay Packers. Facing quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be a far tougher test than Stafford or Cassel.

“Aaron Rodgers is one of the very best, and as a secondary we have to be ready to go,” Rogers said. “If not, you’re going to get behind and they’re going to jump on you. After Friday’s game, we’ll have a good grasp on where we are and what we need to fix.”

The Raiders are working out some kinks in pass defense, but they see great potential if things get ironed out.

“We’ve gotten off to a slow start here, but I see the progress that we’re making,” assistant secondary coach Marcus Robertson said. “We have a lot of new guys and it takes a minute to become cohesive. You can see the makings of what can be quality secondary and a Top 10 defense. That’s our goal, and I think it’s a realistic one.”