Burgess sounds off on run defense

Everyone seems to agree the Raiders problem stopping the run this season boils down to one thing: communication, or lack thereof. Derrick Burgess, for one, can't understand how that can still be an issue at this point of the season.

"It's very frustrating," Burgess said. "It's very frustrating to have these problems. I've been here four years, you dig what I'm saying? It's the same defense. We've been running the same defense four years and to still have these kind of problems is hard to explain."

The two-time Pro Bowl defensive end generally maintains a low profile at the team's headquarters and hadn't spoken to the media in some time before being broached about the Raiders' run defense Wednesday.

Oakland heads into Sunday's home-finale against Houston ranked 31st against the run, allowing 167.1 yards a game. Only Detroit, at 168.7, has allowed more.

At their current rate, the Raiders would wind up with the worst defense -- statistically -- since 1962 when they gave up a franchise-record 171.2 yards a game on the ground. Interim head coach Tom Cable has blamed much of the current's team's problems on communication, something he cited in the aftermath of Oakland's 49-26 loss to New England last Sunday and again on Wednesday.

Asked whether the issues were in personnel, schemes or coaching, Cable said, "It's all of that. It's getting it done on Sunday. You gotta have pride in stopping the run. It is a tough guy's game and that's where you have to do it. You gotta make sure you fit it up right in terms of your scheme and teach it right and all those things. It's just collectively doing it the right way and getting back to playing at the right level of intensity."

Burgess agrees.

"Communication problems? That's one of those little things because, you know, it don't cost you (anything) to talk. But it just happens in a game when you're trying to focus on your technique but you need to be giving this guy a call and you don't give him the call or you give him the wrong call. It's just one of those things where more time in the meeting room, more time together will smooth that all out. Sometimes guys try to do too much and that probably causes some of the situation too."

Some of the problems appear to be between the defensive linemen and linebackers. After Sammy Morris scored on a 29-yard touchdown run to put New England ahead 21-0 less than 12 minutes into the first quarter, middle linebacker Kirk Morrison and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly got into a slightly animated exchange on the sidelines. Morrison then walked over to defensive line coach Keith Millard and continued the conversation.

Burgess, one of Oakland's team captains, said he has talked to his teammates about the communication problems and other issues the defense is having.

" I can't say it in the newspapers," Burgess said. "I don't know what a linebacker should be doing. I know around about where he should be. Just when you come to the sideline, ‘Hey man, let's fix it.' That's all you can do. If you don't fix it right there, let's fix it at halftime so we won't have this problem. Let's make the adjustments."

The Raiders defensive problems this year have placed coordinator Rob Ryan on the hot seat. The team is just 18-60 since he took over in 2004 and the Raiders have allowed a league-high 98 rushing touchdowns during that stretch.

This season Ryan's defense is ranked 21st overall but has blown fourth quarter leads twice and has been susceptible to numerous big plays. Oakland is also giving up 4.7 yards per carry.

"We think too damned much," Terdell Sands said. "That's all we need to do, get on the same page, get the checks together right, and we will be all right. This defense is very talented. I hate to see the season end up like it is, with as much talent as we do have. It's the same guys that have been fighting with each other for almost four years now, so it really does hurt at the same time."

· Wide receiver Ronald Curry (turf toe) and Ashley Lelie (calf) are not expected to play against Houston, leaving Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens to start. That's Oakland's third different pair of starting wide receivers dating back to training camp when the original starting duo was tabbed to be Javon Walker and Drew Carter. Both suffered season-ending injuries, Carter before the regular season began.


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