Coming into this season, most believed that the Oakland Raiders biggest weakness would be their pass defense. They lost one of the best corner backs in the NFL to free agency when Nnamdi Asomugha signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. However, a quarter of the way into the 2011 season, and it appears that the Raiders have bigger problems in run defense than in pass defense, which is a terrible sign because the pass defense looks really bad.
The Raiders boast one of the most intimidating defensive lines in the NFL. Unfortunately, they also boast a massively underachieving linebacker corps. Of the three starting linebackers, the only one who has impressed this season is the only one who came into the season unsure of whether he would be the starter. Quentin Groves has had a good start to the 2011 season, while Rolando McClain and Kamerion Wimbley have failed to live up to their expectations.
In fact, McClain has played so poorly this season, former Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski called him out after his performance against the New England Patriots. McClain has appeared as though he has actually regressed in his second season in the league, often committing missed tackles that are flat our embarrassing.
While the injury to Andre Johnson is a good sign for the chances of the Raiders winning in Houston on Sunday, the Raiders will still be forced to go through Arian Foster if they want to climb above .500. Foster, who missed time with a hamstring injury caused by anti-awesomeness, came back with a vengence against the Steelers last weekend, putting up 155 yards on the ground.
If Steven Ridley and Benjarvus Green-Ellis could amass close to 200 yards against this poorous Raiders run defense, just imagine what a healthy Arian Foster will do. If the Raiders have to win this game, they must find a way to shore up their run defense and do it quickly. Otherwise, Sunday could get ugly.