While much of the focus on the Oakland Raiders problems have been centered on the offense, the Raider defensive unit will have to do its part as well in Monday night's game at Denver.
The Raider defense has given the team a chance to win both of its first two games but they have spent far too much time on the field. Oakland permitted close to 35 minutes of possession time in a 25-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans and nearly 40 minutes in a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Granted, being without safeties Rod Woodson and Anthony Dorsett are not helping Oakland. However, that does not explain why Bengal quarterback Jon Kitna, who no one will confuse with Johnny Unitas, had more than ample time to pass the ball.
It won't get any easier Monday in Denver.
Newly acquired quarterback Jake Plummer gets a lot of attention but the Bronco ground game has been shredding opponents in the first two games in averaging 190 yards. Clinton Portis leads the way with 249 yards.
"They're averaging about 40 rushing attempts per game, about 5.2 yards per carry and about 190 yards rushing per game," Raiders defensive end Trace Armstrong said. "When you're doing that, that makes everybody look good."
The presence of Portis makes matters much easier for Plummer, who for a rare time in his career has a good supporting cast. Plummer spent his entire career with the dreadful Arizona Cardinals before signing with Denver during the offseason.
"When you have such a phenomenal running game," Raiders defensive tackle John Parrella said. "It takes the pressure off the quarterback."
Whether or not Plummer takes advantage of the fact that he has a good supporting cast remains to be seen. Many touted Plummer as the next Joe Montana when the Cards drafted him in the second round in 1996 from Arizona State. Plummer, however, has looked more like "Jake the Fake" than "Jake the Snake."
"It's been a different kind of pressure here," Plummer said. "Now, you go into every game expecting to win. I know that if I play well, we will be in a position to win. It's a refreshing position to be in."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org