Raiders to emphasize defense in free agency and draft

Feb 24, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen speaks at a press conference during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Last season it became clear that the one part of the Raiders offense that was functioning well was the offense. By that same token, it was very clear that the reason they were losing, was the defense.

Early in the season Darren McFadden was back on the track that he laid the previous season in which he ran for over 1157 yards. But he went down early in week seven and never returned.

Even after McFadden was lost for the season, the offense recovered and carried the Raiders to several more wins. The problem was that they couldn't score enough points to keep the defense from letting the other teams back in the game and blowing the leads they had built.

Dennis Allen saw this first hand as a member of the Broncos staff last season. He watched as Broncos QB Tim Tebow shredded the Raiders defense. And by this point, he could probably recount every game last season in which the Raiders defense collapsed late. So there is no reason for him to mince words when discussing the Raiders priority this offseason.

"I think obviously, defensively that is going to be a priority for us." Said Allen. "I think I was really pleased with what the Raiders were able to do last year offensively. I know from having to defend against them, they were a real challenge to defend. Defensively, if you look at the defensive rankings, not too different than what the situation I came into last year with Denver. So it's obviously a high priority for us and we've got to get better in that area.

Allen may not be the defensive coordinator but as the head coach, if he can bring the same level of intensity and discipline to this Raider defense, they could bounce back and begin showing the potential they had shown at the end of the 2010 season.

Clearly to accomplish their goals, they will need to infuse some competition at some defensive positions as well as upgrades at others. Or even still, just more players.

The team needs defensive backs first and foremost. They cut Stanford Routt and there is no certainty as to whether his replacement is even on the team at this time. And if the team cuts Michael Huff, which could very well happen, you can add the safety position to that list as well. And it goes without saying that the team must lock up Tyvon Branch long term or with the franchise tag.

With the multifaceted schemes that Allen has proposed, it will mean adding a nose tackle as well as a couple linebackers. It is conceivable the team could lose as many as five linebacker this offseason. Kamerion Wimbley and Aaron Curry's contracts are too high and they will likely both need to restructure to remain with the team. Quentin Groves, Darryl Blackstock, and Trevor Scott are set to become unrestricted free agents.

They indeed have a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball this offseason. It starts in free agency and continues in the draft in April.

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