Oakland Raiders: Can the Raiders Be a Top Defense in 2012?

Elijah Abramson@@BasesandBasketsCorrespondent IIIAugust 15, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos hands off the ball before being hit by Richard Seymour #92 of the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After piquing the interest of Raider Nation with his comment that new head coach Dennis Allen has “it,” Richard Seymour went a step further in a Q&A session in July at the Napa Valley Training Complex.

In his own words: “we are definitely laying the foundation…hopefully we are different and a top-five defense this year.”

Oakland’s defense certainly does not benefit from the losses of Kamerion Wimbley and Stanford Routt, who have moved on to the Tennessee Titans and rival Kansas City Chiefs respectively. Both were premier defensive players and will be sorely missed.

But with the recent extension handed out by new general manager Reggie McKenzie to safety Tyvon Branch, the Raiders do have a leader to look to in the defense.

Not only that, but Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly combine to make a formidable defensive line.

Seymour has increased his sack total in each of his three years as a Raider from 4.0 to 5.5 to 6.0. As a three-time Super Bowl champion, he has valuable experience to bestow upon the younger members of the Raiders defense.

His words are not coming from an ambitious rookie trying to get attention.

The Raiders defense was not even at full strength last year, watching Matt Shaughnessy’s season cut short due to a Week 3 injury against the New York Jets. His 6’5” and 285-pound frame as a defensive end will add more intimidation to the Raiders defense.

If he can improve upon his 56 tackles, seven sacks and two forced fumbles from two seasons ago, the Raiders will add another steal to their list of above average late-round draft picks (Shaughnessy was a third round pick out of Wisconsin).

The Raiders should enjoy and take full advantage of the fact that this is the final year of his rookie contract—he’s not even making $1 million this season.

Although they lack depth at the cornerback position behind former 49er Shawntae Spencer, their safeties consist of Branch, Michael Huff and Matt Giordano. That core has proven they can hold their own and are ready to make an impact under the new system.

They have had the time to build chemistry and will finally get the freedom they need as a defensive unit from the hands of legendary owner, Al Davis. Michael Huff, for one, is “going to love it.”

Lamarr Houston, Rolando McClain and rookie Jack Crawford are all players who can stake claims as important cogs in the Raiders defense.

But if nothing else, Seymour’s words provide the optimism necessary to get the new-look defense jumpstarted.

 

Check out B/R featured columnist Elijah Abramson’s Raiders Blog here.

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