For being a defense with nine new starters this season, Oakland is surpassing what many experts expected. After having a down season in 2012, The Raiders are on the comeback trail defensively. Led by Jason Tarver and Dennis Allen, both in their second year in Oakland, The Raiders are employing more exotic blitz packages and really keeping opposing offenses on their toes.
Sacks are important to keeping an offense off-balance and running time off the clock. Last season, Oakland tallied a total of 25 sacks on the year. Through six games this year, they have accumulated 16. This is due in large part to Tarver’s exotic blitz schemes and the sheer tenacity of the players. In Oakland’s scheme, offenses have a harder time telling who is going to be bringing the blitz. Tarver calls this “activating” players. Making blitzes work can create turnovers as well, and that can lead to offensive oppotunities.
Creating fumbles only works if you can recover it after. So far this season, Oakland has created 7 fumbles and recovered 6 of them. Last season’s total was 10 created and 8 recovered. It would be ridiculous to think that this defense is not going to surpass last season’s totals. Defensive touchdowns have already passed last season thanks to a Charles Woodson fumble recovery and touchdown. Capitalizing on forced turnovers eases the stress on the offense if your defense can score as well.
Overall effort is at a premium this season as well. If at any point last year the team felt that the game was just too far out of reach, they seemed to just quit. The difference this year is that no game has been completely out of reach. The defense has created opportunities to win games. The offense is really the side of the ball sputtering and failing to capitalize on the opportunity given. Youth and leadership is turning this defense around much faster than expected. The offseason acquisition of Charles Woodson will obviously help most every defense, but partnered with Sio Moore, the defense is getting younger and getting real leadership. Both men have been seen taking charge of the defense and installing that “Never Say Die” mentality into it. This really begins to show on goal-line stands, and in general play-making ability.
Oakland’s defense has been growing and improving daily. We can being to look forward to the days when offenses are scared to take the field against the Silver and Black of the Oakland Raiders defense. They are much closer than many analysts seemed to think at the beginning of the season.