Oakland Raiders’ Defense: A Failure of Fundamentals

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 19: John Crockett
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 19: John Crockett /
6 of 6
Oakland Raiders
SAN DIEGO, CA – AUGUST 11: Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. of the Seattle Seahawks during the NFL preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium on August 11, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Unfortunately, this defense continues to lack punch, aggressiveness and seemingly, pride. When this becomes noticeable, the accusing eye inevitably starts to gaze toward the coaching staff.

Ken Norton Jr., who helped the Seattle Seahawks develop a championship defense, has led a Raiders defense the last two years that has shown a lack of spirit and tenacity at times.

The unit ranked twenty-second in total defense in 2015 only to be followed by a twenty-sixth best ranking in 2016. At the second game of preseason, patience is already starting to wear thin with the defensive coordinator. There are already calls for his removal.

Next: Training Camp Winners and Losers

To a certain degree, the glaring mistakes noted in this article can be excused. In fact, there are a myriad of excuses. Fans and pundits alike will note that it’s only the second game of the preseason, or that these players haven’t had time to gel.

Fair enough. But not every defense in the league is having these issues with fundamental football. And head coach Jack Del Rio wouldn’t have acknowledged the team’s problems with basic execution if it were not a concern.

Perhaps a change in defensive coordinator will help. Perhaps the defense just needs new leadership to right the ship. It is unclear what the winning recipe is to turn this unit around.

What is clear is if the Raiders are going to live up to expectations, its defense must be more than the Khalil Mack show.

Facing the fourth-toughest schedule in the league, and arguably the strongest division in football, the Raiders will need their defense to improve, and improve dramatically. Otherwise, you can kiss any hope of knocking the Patriots off their AFC throne goodbye.