If you have any questions about the Oakland Raiders defensively, I highly suggest you watch how the defensive unit performs come Sunday against Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles.
OK, maybe that’s not quite the challenge needed to help you understand the level of defense Oakland has displayed through the first seven games of the season. Regardless of the fact that the Raiders will be facing a struggling young quarterback in Foles, their success thus far has been predicated on the potency of their defense.
Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, also known as the mad scientist (he has a master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology and an award bestowed by the UCLA chemistry department for distinguished teaching in biochemistry), has done whatever he’s needed to do in his laboratory in creating a defensive animal in Oakland.
The men in black rank 10th in the league in total defense, allowing only 330.9 yards of offense per game. Remember last season, when it seemed as if every handoff resulted in an enormous gain? Well, that changed dramatically, as the Raiders rank an impressive sixth in the league at stopping the run, giving up just 89.9 yards a matchup. Do you believe in the heart of a mad scientist?
Head coach Dennis Allen certainly deserves credit for the way the defense has played, for Allen has a history of coordinating defenses in the NFL very effectively. With the brilliant defensive minds of Tarver and Allen, mixed with a combination of hungry football players on the defensive side of the ball who’ve done nothing but make plays, the Raiders are on the road of becoming legitimate threats.
With that being said, the defense deserves most of the credit for why the Raiders are sitting on a competitive 3-4 record. Moreover, the offense, led by the electric Terrelle Pryor, needs to take significant strides for improvement.
Pryor has brought something to Oakland offensively that they have been in search for, for a long time. The former Ohio State superstar has brought life to the Raiders offense.
Carson Palmer was a disaster last year; if anything he took the life OUT of the Raiders offense by turning the ball over left and right. Pryor is an outstanding athlete whose made crucial strides in becoming the quarterback the Nation needs desperately. Quarterback problems have stalled the Raiders for years, though Pryor just may be the guy.
The 24-year-old is in his first year facilitating a NFL offense, he’s been impressive, but far from perfect. However, I take in account what surrounds him offensively, and the harsh reality is, he hasn’t had much to work with. There are areas where Pryor needs to improve if the offense is to take a step forward. Getting in and out of the huddle quicker, pocket awareness, accuracy, vision, and perfecting his mechanics are all areas with room for improvement.
Injuries across the board on the offensive line, lack of a run game due to Darren McFadden either sidelined to injury or struggling to find holes to burst out of with a makeshift offensive line, and poor receiver play have all been factors to why the offense has struggled to produce. The Raiders rank 25th in total offense, accumulating a disappointing average of 314.9 yards of offense per game. They are dead last in passing yards per game, averaging a league low 176 yards in the air. Oakland must improve in all cylinders offensively.
Something worth noting, the Raiders are getting healthier and healthier every week. Players on the offensive line are steadily making a return, and McFadden looked explosive in last week’s win against Pittsburgh. If the offense can continue to improve, while the defense continues to play at a high level, I would not count the silver and black out of the postseason picture.