|In a shocking development, linebackers can't cover Johnson. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
The Raiders had no business losing to the Lions Sunday. And yet they did, in a manner befitting a team that probably doesn't deserve to make the playoffs. During the final, fateful drive, one in which Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford played pitch and catch with Calvin Johnson, Oakland's defense consisted of some variation of "Let's single-cover Megatron and hope for the best!"
We thought Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan made it clear earlier this season that such strategies will fail spectacularly.
Jackson was asked about the defense's coverage philosophy in Sunday's loss to the Lions and he seemed to think it had more to do with execution than play-call. Even though the execution included linebacker Rolando McClain trying to cover one of the league's premier wide receivers.
“It isn’t a scheme issue. The ball’s laying up in the air. You gotta go make that play. Their guy made it and we didn’t. So they won the game." Jackson said, according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Eric Gilmore.
As mentioned, "their guy" was Calvin Johnson. And the Raiders guy was a linebacker. There isn't a linebacker on the planet who can stay with Johnson, especially on "balls laying up in the air."
Here's the play in question.
PFT.com's Gregg Rosenthal asks a question that must've crossed McClain's mind as he was helplessly getting outrun by Johnson: the linebacker is supposed to stay with Megatron 40 yards down the field?
“Yeah, that’s called the Tampa-2," Jackson said. "That’s what the middle linebacker does — he runs right down the middle of the field. They made the play and we didn’t.”
Most teams game-plan to get these sorts of matchups. Apparently, the Raiders were happy to oblige.
We mentioned it on the Week 15 recap podcast, but is there any chance that Jackson's job could be in danger? We suspect no since he'll presumably have a say in hiring the general manager, but he's now on the hook for Carson Palmer (who hasn't worked out) and some questionable in-game decisions that will keep the Raiders out of the postseason.
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