Dennis Allen and Jason Tarver had their Defense playing like an NFL Defense the last 4 weeks of the 2012 season. A lot of improvement was made and they deserve some praise.
Tarver and Allen both showed lots of emotion the last quarter of the season. I remember a time against Carolina they were both screaming at the refs about a terrible call against rookie linebacker Miles Burris for hitting with his helmet even though there was no contact with his helmet and it was just a good clean tackle. After SD hit the game winning field goal Allen was upset and wanted a chance to win a game that others didn't think mattered. He sure looked happy though when the special teams blocked a punt which led to a Terrelle Pryor touchdown.
The Raiders Offense is up in the air but the defense will get some stability when it comes to coaches. Tarver is returning to the Raiders and the mad scientist is probably drawing up some new blitz packages as I type. Next years defense will most likely have some new players and new wrinkles added to it. Last years defense was a bit of a breath of fresh air though I wasn't used to seeing something other than a 4 man rush with man on man coverage. Tarver wanted to run more multiple defense last year but didn't have the personnel to pull it off. Next year should be different.
From what I've heard the Raiders are right on the salary cap limit as of now. Which is actually normal. Of course the limit hasn't been put out yet the Raiders are right around 121 million. Some tough decisions are going to have to made by Raider's General Manager Reggie McKenzie. I have a feeling Reggie is already 3 moves ahead and has already made the decisions about the guys on the current roster. Tommy Kelly, Mike Huff, Mike Briesel, DHB, Dmac, Carson Palmer, and Terrelle Pryor are all guys under contract Reggie must be trying to or has already figured out what to do with. I imagine CP3 and TP will be on the roster next year unless a team would be interested in trading for one of them. With the firing of Knapp and the line coach Reggie has blamed McFadden's bad season all on the scheme and line. I'd like to see McFadden sign a 4 year 20 million dollar deal with 5 of it being guaranteed. That would pretty much mean McFadden retires a Raider. It'd also save the Raiders a pretty penny by throwing out his rookie contract. Kelly and Huff have played decent for the Raiders but aren't worth those huge contracts. I can see Kelly restructuring and taking a pay cut but not so sure about Huff. He was excited for this new defense and got switched to corner and struggled for awhile. If not willing to take a pay cut he could be cut. Then there's Briesel. In my opinion the worst move last off-season was the signing of Mike Briesel. Hopefully McKenzie isn't stubborn and will admit his mistake and Briesel will be playing somewhere else next year.
Philip Wheeler is the Raiders top free agent this year. Getting him signed should be first on the to do list after Reggie gets done with all the cutting and restructuring. Wheeler should get a decent amount but won't break the bank. Philip Adams, Mike Mitch, Hanson, Matt Shaugnessy, Andre Carter, Brandian Ross, and Desmond Bryant all are defensive free agents that should be brought back for a good price.
Defensive FAs from other teams the Raiders might be able to afford include: Glenn Dorsey DT, Daryl Smith LB, Paul Kruger LB, Derek Cox CB, Nate Clements CB, Mike Jenkins CB, Pacman Jones CB, Trevor Scott DE, and Alameda Ta'amu NT who was cut by Pittsburgh for off the field issues.
The draft will also give the defense some new blood. There really isn't a star offensive player worth taking on offense beside Luke Joeckel the Raiders will most likely take a pass rusher or a NT. Reggie will likely try to trade back as much as possible because of all the holes on the team and because there is loads of talent in the first 5 rounds. This draft lacks star players like RG3's and Megatron's but there are a lot of defensive studs and key players coming out this year that could really help the Raiders.
The Raiders had a rookie starter on defense with Outside Linebacker Miles Burris. Burris will look to capitalize on starting his rookie year by having an even better 2nd year. Expect him to work hard this off-season and retain his job as the starter. The Raiders have 2 other defensive rookies that would like to see more playing time next year. 6th round pick Christo Bilkudi actually made some plays this year. He had multiple tipped balls and supplied pressure. Jack Crawford got on the field a few times but I didn't see anything special. He must be doing something right though to remain on the team.
Dennis Allen must find his leader on defense this year. He could already be on the team or he could be added later. Everyone knows though that it's not former starting linebacker Rolando McClain. If I had to put money on it Rolando will be the first player to leave Oakland in 2013.
The Raiders defense really got better in the last 4 weeks. During those weeks the Raiders were second in total defense, tied for fifth in defending the run, sixth in allowing net passing yards and seventh in third-down percentage. It doesn't make up for having the worst November I can remember but It makes me look forward to September. I can't say much about the Offense just yet but the defense being in the same system will help a ton just like being in Hue Jackson's Offense two years in a row really helped them. Dennis Allen and Jason Tarver want to win and Reggie will get them the guys to do it.