Fix the Defense and the Playoffs Will Follow

I was on YahooSports this morning and I saw an article about the Raiders officially confirming Allen as their HC as of Friday. In an article written by Josh Dubow I saw a few stats that really made me realize how horrible our defense was this past year. It isn't like I didn't already know how horrible we were last year, the games we lost had already drilled that home anyway, but these particular stats are just awful.

It is really sad to think that we came into this past season with a supposed focus on renewing our competitive edge and aggressiveness on the defensive side of the ball only to have the opposite come into effect. There is no excuse for us to have set all time record lows in 4 separate defensive categories. I repeat 4 separate all time lows for our storied franchise that is over 50 years old:

  • Touchdown passes allowed with 31
  • Yards per Carry at 5.1
  • Passing Yards Allowed 4,262 yards
  • Total Yards Allowed at 6,201

Also just for good measure they gave up 433 points this past season which is only the 3rd worst of all time for us. Obviously me saying "only the 3rd worst" was sarcasm. There has never been a question that defense cost us a winning record and postseason appearance this year but I hadn't realized it was multiple record breaking bad.

We have always been built on defense and for us to have had that awful of a season is a true slap to the face of the legendary Raider teams of old. There is no excuse for this type of awfulness. The building a bully mantra turned out to not only be a terrible overly used phrase, but also the complete opposite of what we did. We were bullied the whole season and did absolutely nothing to stop it. Our lack of action allowed it to manifest into the demise of our season for yet another year.

With the hiring of Dennis Allen it appears that age of inaction might actually be over. We saw what happened to our team last year and decided enough was enough. It was inexcusable and we were punished severely for our insolence. Now we have a defensive minded coach and we are going to have to see results to be competitive. What changes he will make we obviously have no clue for a long, long time.

I can tell you this, I do not see a move to a 3-4 with Allen as HC. He was hired in Denver specifically because he ran a 4-3 and came in to change their defense from a 3-4. There is a chance that he will run a hybrid system that is becoming more common so maybe we might see a few looks in the 3-4 but it definitely wont become the classic 3-4 system many were hoping to see implemented.

I am really excited to see what ways Allen is going to use Matt Shaughnessy. I don't think any single injury we had did more to effect our defense than losing Matt. He is such a high energy, explosive athlete that we just did not have a player like him once he was gone. To me losing him would have been similar to the Packers losing Clay Matthews. I'm not saying Shaughnessy is as good as Clay, but I am saying he was as important to us as Clay was to Green Bay.

I am really hoping that if we use a hybrid 4-3/3-4 system that we will see Shaughnessy line up at OLB. I think his pass rush from a standing position would be outstanding and he even has good enough hands to be able to drop back in coverage. The man is an all around athlete that lives, sleeps and breathes football and is going to be willing to do whatever we want him to. Getting him back on the field is going to improve our defense from within exponentially.

I am curious on what we will be doing with Michael Huff. There was a report that he was going to become a full time corner but now that has to be in question. I do not even know if he will be on the team, and honestly if we could trade him for any value I would be ok with it. He had one really good season for us and several mediocre ones. I do not really want to see him become one of the main corners we rely on.

The free agents that I would immediately go after are Cortland Finnegan and Laron Landry. Both are going to be unrestricted free agents and I anticipate both playing in new jerseys this next season, so why not Silver and Black. Cortland is a natural born Raider if I have ever seen one, he loves to play aggressive and get in opponents heads. He does play dirty at times though and might be counter productive to us fixing our penalty chaos. I still want him anyway, the guy straight up balls every play and would be a phenomenal addition to our secondary.

As for Landry, he is a full out hitter at Safety. The guy can lay licks on people that make them forget what their own names are. He is an immediate upgrade at our safety position opposite of Tyvon Branch, who was our defensive player of the year and also needs to be resigned. If we can only do Branch or Landry I would rather keep Branch but if we can get both of them to come in to our defense then people would be terrified going over the middle against us.

Thank god we should not have to see Rolando McClain covering our opponent's best receiver anymore. At least we better not. That horrible defensive assignment cost us two games specifically at the end of the year and I never ever want to see it happen again. It was the most stupid thing I have ever seen a defense do to have McClain cover Calvin Johnson and it was just straight up disgusting. We should not be enduring that type of stupidity anymore with Dennis Allen's defense.

There is a lot of pressure on Dennis Allen right now, and if he falters much at all there is going to be a ton of criticism thrust onto him. If he fixes our defensive woes even as much as what he helped Denver's we should be a playoff team. Our offense is good enough to win any game that our defense keeps us in, so lets see our defense meet that challenge the way Denver's did last year.

There is a large variety of opinions on this hire and Allen can satisfy a lot of doubters with a good performance by our D next year. If we want to make the playoffs we are going to need to see our defense improve drastically. Dennis is not going to be given much time by our fans and the media to make improvements. We hired a defensive minded coach to get the best out of our defense, and its going to be a long tenure for Allen if he can accomplish that. If not there are going to be calls for his head pretty early on from our disgruntled fanbase. Loyalty to our team does not necessarily translate to loyalty to our coach and I hope Dennis Allen does not have to find that out the hard way.

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