Once upon a time, the Raiders had one of the most feared defenses in the NFL.
In the days when George Atkinson and Jack Tatum roamed the defensive backfield, the Steelers dubbed the Raiders a "criminal element" because of the "malicious intent" of many of their hits.
The Raiders even embraced their "criminal element." As Tatum once said, "I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault.”
These guys were head-hunters who struck fear into offenses, especially any receiver dumb enough to venture over the middle. They gave a damn about any fines the league may institute.
As it stands now the Raiders have lacked hard-hitters for years. The last real hard-hitters they had were Greg Biekert, Rod Woodson, and Bill Romanowski.
But that is about to change. The Raiders are bringing back the hard-hitters, head-hunters, and their mean-streak.
It started last year when the Raiders drafted Michael Mitchell.
And this year it continued.
They brought in a solid tackler and field general in Rolando McClain.
Then they brought in Jeremy Ware, at 5'10'' 190 pounds, he is not only known for his athleticism, including a 4.37 40-yard dash, but his ability to help in run support. He is also known for his hard-hits like this one. Sure the legality of the hit was questionable and resulted in a flag, but it was brutal and left the opponent unconscious. You might even go as far as to say that hit bordered on "felonious assault."
Then they added Kellen Heard as an unrestricted free agent. By some accounts, Heard would have been drafted if it weren't for his alleged cheap shot on Colt McCoy which resulted in him being blacklisted.
During his final year at Memphis, he played on both sides of the ball at OT and DT. At 6'5'' 355 pounds, he has an ideal frame to be a run stuffing DT.
He is known for his mean-streak, namely the play where he injured McCoy with a "cheap shot."
On the play in question McCoy threw an INT, McCoy then began unbuckling his helmet and walking off the field. Then, out of nowhere, Heard blows up McCoy knocking him out of the game. Sure it may have been a "cheap shot," but the play was still live as defenders were returning McCoys' INT at the time of the hit.
With these defenders being added to the defense, opposing offenses will need to keep their heads on a swivel and finally respect the Raiders' defense. Maybe the Raiders' defense will even regain its reputation for having "malicious intent" and hits bordering on "felonious assault".