Oakland Raiders: 6 Reasons Jack Del Rio Might Be On To Something

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Dec 7, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52), defensive tackle Antonio Smith (94) and defensive end Justin Tuck (91) sack San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Raiders defeated the San Francisco 49ers 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A Fortified Defense

Stopping the run was one of Oakland’s biggest challenges last season. Having given up a tick under 120 yards a game on the ground, the Raiders checked in with the league’s 23rd ranked run defense. It was a big problem for the team, and one the front office addressed decisively this offseason.

With the additions of Dan Williams and Curtis Lofton to go along with Justin Tuck, Justin Ellis, Sio Moore – or Malcolm Smith until he returns – and of course, Khalil Mack, Oakland’s front seven is ferocious. And they will be incredibly tough to run against.

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Oakland’s passing defense fared a bit better, giving up around 238 yards per game – which was good for 19th in the league last season.

If there was an area of concern regarding Oakland’s defense this year though, this would be it. McKenzie has opted to let his young guns, D.J. Hayden, Travis Carrie, and Keith McGill – a third year man who’s barely seen the field, and two second year players – run the show in Oakland’s defensive backfiel.d

The good news is that all three have showed flashes of brilliance from time to time. They all have talent and they can all play the corner position. The bad news is that even combined, their in game experience is minimal and they all do still have some developing to do.

Fortunately, a fierce front seven who can put sustained pressure on the QB may help mask some of the deficiencies in the secondary.

Though Oakland has a few question on defense, they fortunately, have a lot of answers as well.

Next: 4. Plenty of Warm Bodies