Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Trevor Scott, Lamarr Houston , Matt Shaughnessy and Kamerion Wimbley. If you are an Oakland Raider fan, you have to love the defensive improvements. The Raiders defensive front are solid players that have experience and are still last season's lineup.
Al Davis went out of his way to keep the defensive line together, and last season explains why he did. Add in a little talent named Rolando McClain to the backfield, and the defense will definitely get respect in 2011. Baltimore Ravens, move over because there's a new defensive king in the mix, the Raider D is back!
Last season, the Raiders went 8-8. This was a lot more than many people felt they would get, including the NFL. Surprise Surprise
The Raiders not only won more games last season, they had improved greatly and were close to winning the AFC West title. For those who saw the Kansas City Chiefs flail in the playoffs, you can understand that the wrong team represented to AFC West last season. The Chiefs' weaknesses were exposed when the Raiders decimated them at season's end. The defensive front was key and has been since the start.
Last season, the Raider defense posted 44 sacks! Include 16 interceptions and 25 forced fumbles and you get a defense that ranked 14th overall and has the ability to become No. 1. At least get into the top five. This is realistic.
It would be pure magic if the Raiders could match any offers for CB Nnamndi Asomugha. In fact, fans hope that the best CB in the NFL remains loyal to the city that has taken in him as family. Asomugha shut down receivers like crazy, and it will hurt the defense to lose him.
Regardless, the Raiders brought in veteran Rod Woodson to help train the secondary. The Oakland defense tallied 16 interceptions last season and should have an even better season as the pass rushing has improved.
The Raiders have come a long way since hitting rock bottom in recent years. There had been virtually no pass rushing until the acquisition of former New England Patriot Seymour, who has been a true leader for the Silver and Black.
Seymour has actually become the heart of the defense, and with him playing alongside Kelly, the two are virtually unstoppable.
Kelly has improved vastly since the arrival of Seymour. Last season, Kelly had seven sacks and 57 tackles. He works well with Seymour, and both have helped the Raiders stop the run attacks. The Raiders had been lacking in this area, and have since become one of the best teams to stop the run.
Wimbley is another acquisition that has shined for the Silver and Black. At 6'5", 255 lbs, Wimbley has been an absolute terror to offensive linemen. Wimbley was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round pick back in 2010.
Wimbley posted 26.5 sacks and 179 tackles as a Brown in his four seasons there. Today, he is coming off a nine-sack season. Wimbley led the team in sacks and has been solid on the line.
One honorable mention to the defense has to be Tyvon Branch, who led the defense in tackles. Last season Tyvon had 98 solo tackles, and the season prior he posted 81 tackles. Branch is all over the field.
The Raiders have weapon Mike Mitchell, who in his second season posted 42 tackles and one interception. Since his arrival, Mitchell has shown himself to be a fierce competitor for the Raiders. Mitchell has great vision and his tackling skills are among the elite.
This new Oakland defense will be tough to stop, a surge of raw power rushing in to sack rival QBs, i.e. Tim Tebow, Matt Cassell or Phillip Rivers. Expect to see a lot of scrambling QBs.
Last season, the Raiders defeated the AFC West with a perfect 6-0 record. Defensively, the Raiders have not only stopped the run, but they have the best CB in the NFL. This season may change if they lose Asomugha, but overall, the secondary is fast and should be able to lock down wide receivers with Woodson's added guidance.
Overall, the Raiders are improved, and having been in a slump for nearly seven years, the team deserves to get respect back. Actually, getting respect in the NFL may be a little easier for the Raiders, having defeated the Denver Broncos, 59-14.
The defense really stood up and the NFL was shocked. Soon after was the defeat of Kansas City. The Raiders basically did whatever they wanted to damage the Chiefs.
Last season, the Raiders proved that they were serious about "returning to glory". Rebuilding the defense was a part of the plan, and once again Davis has kept the defense in tact. The players now have a camaraderie and this is will be potent to adversaries.
The Silver and Black is definitely back, and although its AFC West rivals want some payback after being humiliated twice last season, it's not going to happen. The Raiders are back and expect to make the Super Bowl next year. Defenses win Super Bowls, so guess what? Go Raiders!