The question of whether or not the Oakland Raiders will have the #1 defense in football may sound like a bit of an oxymoron, but I want to look at the defensive side of ball one important statistic at a time. For today, let's take a look at the number of interceptions each team that led the League in interceptions attained over the past five years.
1) Interception Leaders: (Each of these teams made the playoffs)
2007 San Diego 30 (2TD) Raiders (18-2)
2006 Ravens 28 (5 TD) Raiders (18-2)
2005 Bengals 31 (1 TD) Raiders (5-0)
2004 Panthers 26 (2 TD) Raiders (9-1)
2003 New England 29 (5 TD) Raiders (14-2)
I would think that there are two very important quantifiers to take into account are the League ranks for rushing defense and also offensive scoring, as each of these will lead to more passing attempts by the opposition.
2007 San Diego 5th in Scoring 16th Rush Defense (107 YPG)
2006 Baltimore 12th in Scoring 2nd Rush Defense (75.9)
2005 Bengals 4th in Scoring 20th Rush Defense (115.6)
2004 Panthers 13th in Scoring 17th Rudh Defense (119)
2003 New England 12th in Scoring 4th Rush Defense (89.6)
Oddly enough, after further inspection, no team who was lower than 13th in scoring led the League in interceptions, the Bengals ranked 20th in Rush defense, BUT< 4th in scoring and led the League in picks.
Outlook for Oakland in 2008:
Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison are two of the best pass defending linebackers in the NFL and it is no mistake that inteceptions have been on the rise on the Raider defense since they've teamed up in Oakland.
Michael Huff has been moved to his natural position, free safety, where he has already shown to be more of a playmaker in 3 preseason games than he did in his first 2 years in silver and black.
In 32 games at strong safety Huff had 1 pick. In 3 games, so far, he has forced a fumble, picked a pass and disrupted several others.
In 31 games from 2006-07 our former FS, Stuart Schweigert, tallied 2 interceptions..Total.
Huff will be an upgrade over Schweigert in the turnover department.
Our new Strong Safety, Gibril Wilson, tallied 4 picks at FS for the Giants last season and 7 in his three years at SS.
As far as interceptions go, he is an upgrade over Huff.
Our biggest off-season pick-up on defense is DeAngelo Hall.
In his past 47 games he has picked off 15 passes. That is an average of 5 a season. Fabian Washington had a total of 5 picks in his three seasons here and Stanford Routt had 4 over the same timeframe.
Even though the run defense was terrible last season and the offense was well short of putting up enough points to force teams to pass on them, the Raiders still had 18 picks. It looks to me that if the offense scores as a higher rate and the run defense plays better then the team has upgraded the interception "potential" to the point where they "can" lead the League in picks.
"IF" they did that and DID not make the playoffs, that would be quite abnormal.