I don't know about you guys, but I am thrilled for the 2011 season. Last year, Oakland had the 11th overall defense. I am confident that the Raiders D will move up from there and become a top 10 defense that teams will hate to play. I know some of you are thinking that there isn't a chance Oakland's defense will be better than last year considering we lost Asomugha, you are entitled to your opinion, but here is why the Raiders WILL have a dominating defense.
I will take you through the starters on defense, after reading this, I'm sure you will have the same opinion as I do.
First off, the defensive line. Clogging up the middle we have our two most experienced players, Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymore. Tommy Kelly, a 9 year veteran, had the 2nd best season of his career last year in terms of total tackles, and his best season in terms of sacks last year. He had over 30% more sacks last year than any other season in his career. Next to him is Richard Seymore, I don't feel that I have to say much about him, he has unrivaled talent. Hes a pro bowler and an all pro. The two defensive ends are Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy. Both players gained an extremely valuable year of experience as a starter. Shaughnessy will be in his third year, nearly doubled his total tackles and sacks from the previous year. Houston had a very good rookie season ranking 2nd among rookie linemen in tackles and 3rd in sacks. Obviously we will have pro bowl performances every week from out DTs and can expect nothing less than tremendous progression from out youthfull DEs.
On to the line backers. Quenton Groves at OLB is sort of a liability on the Raiders defense. But he isn't a huge issue and his supporting cast will more than make up for him. The other OLB is 13th overall pick from 06, Kamerion Wimbley. Obviously he has talent. His stellar rookie season proved that but since then slowed down. That is, until last year. Last year he thrived in Oakland's defense having the 2nd best season, in terms of sacks, of his career. Now to the stud of the linebackers, Rolando McClain. McClain had a tremendous rookie season, as he was 2nd in LBs in tackles for rookies. Coming out of the draft he was a "can't miss" pick for Oakland, and proved that last year.
Now the secondary. Outsiders might think that the CBs for Oakland will be lost with out Asomugha, but they haven't done their research. The new, biggest stat for CBs is called burn rate. Last year in the NFL, Oakland had 3 of the top 6 CBs in terms of burn rate. One was obviously Asomugha, but that means TWO are still on Oakland. Them being Stanford Routtand veteran Chris Johnson. Chris Johnson was surprising to me, but sure enough after watching recaps of last year, he played pretty solid most of the time. Also don't sleep on rookie Demarcus Van Dyke. He is tall with long arms and absolutely flies. With some coaching from hall of famer Rod Woodson, Van Dyke could turn into a great CB. Oakland's SS is an absolute stud. Tyvon Branch has been with Oakland 3 years and started 2. In those 2 years as a starter, no defensive back has had more tackles than him. He also was tied for 1st among defensive backs in sacks. He is a tremendous tackler and can get after the QB. Lastly, there is 7th overall, Thorpe award winning FS Michael Huff. His first few years in Oakland were less than expected but broke out last year. He had 94 tackles which ranked 5th among FS. Also, along side team mate Tyvon Branch, Huff was tied for 1st among defensive backs in sacks. Both Oaklands safeties can tackle and get after the QB, while their CBs can lock down WRs as proven by the burn rate.
8 of the starters from last year on the Raiders defense are under the age of 30. So we can, and should, expect progress from each of them which means better production from the two DEs, both OLBs, the MLB, our #1 CB and both our SS and FS. 10 of our 11 starters had very impressive performances last year among their peers and with the great coaching staff, youth and talent, Oakland will progress and be a feared defense.
Yea we lost Asomugha, but Oakland was 1 sack short of leading the league in sacks. We get after the QB with the best of them. Also Oakland led the league in safeties. 2 very bright spots that have more to do with the defensive line than our CBs.
The Raiders ranked 4th to last in rush D. We didn't make any important aquisitions on D this year, but like I said, Oakland is full of youth. The year of experience as a starter for our 8 players under 30 are far more valuable than any 1 player we could bring in. Oaklands pass defense will be just as good, and rush defense will be a lot better.
There are studs and bright spots all of our defense. There is no reason for Raiders fans to worry about life after Asomugha.