John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
The Oakland Raiders had a horrific season on defense in 2012, but an article on ESPN hints that Dennis Allen did not come close to deploying his entire defensive scheme.
The Oakland Raiders fans will be happy to know that the defense they saw take the field in 2012 should not look the same in 2013, and not just because the personnel will be different. According to a piece on ESPN.com's Insider (you will need an ESPN membership to read it), Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has yet to deploy the majority of his defensive scheme because he did not have the proper personnel to do so in 2012.
The ESPN Insider piece takes a look at the biggest position of need for every AFC West team heading into the off-season. When author Andy Benoit gets to the Raiders, he makes the not so surprising assessment that corner back is the biggest position of need. Considering the Raiders fielded a group of corners who would be hard pressed to be a back up on many NFL rosters in 2012, Benoit's assertion is far from Earth shaking.
But in his explanation of why corner back is the most important position for the Raiders, Benoit makes a rather interesting statement:
"Restocking the position would allow Michael Huff to return to a more fitting sub-package safety role and allow Dennis Allen to install the some 60 percent of his scheme that he's still waiting to roll out."
In 2011, the Raiders were kept out of the playoffs in large part due to their defense being positively incapable of protecting a lead late in games. With the hiring of a defensive minded head coach, the Raiders hoped they had taken the first step towards fixing their defense. Unfortunately, the Raiders defense looked markedly worse in 2012.
The poor play on defense has been attributed primarily to the lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball. But at the same time, there has clearly been concern amongst the Raider Nation that Dennis Allen may not be the defensive guru that Reggie McKenzie thought he was.
The revelation that Allen did not even roll out half of his defensive scheme in 2012 is both frustrating and promising. It is frustrating because it gives the appearance that Allen did not give it his all in 2012. Opening up the scheme would not likely have resulted in a much better record, but perhaps the Raiders would not have been quite as painful to watch.
However, at the same time, it is also promising to know that we have only scratched the surface of what the Raiders' defense under Dennis Allen will look like once it is fully installed. The scheme was not bad last season, but it was also nothing to write home about. If the Raiders can upgrade their defensive squad and unveil the remainder of their defensive scheme, perhaps there is hope of a more drastic defensive turnaround than originally anticipated.