Can Raider Offensive Spotlight Hide Glaring Defensive Weakness?

Terrell White – Sep 9, 2017

Holla At Me Raider Nation!

I've said it once, and I will say it again: Global Warming is real people! Now, on to Raider business.

There's a great deal of hype outside Raider Nation, & excitement within the Nation about the Oakland (for now) offense. Marshawn Lynch has unretired and will be the featured ground gainer. Quarterback Derek Carr, healed and with a fresh new contract will be looking to take things a few steps further this season then he did last. Wide receiver Amari Cooper is the new Steve (and I'm not talking stone cold) Austin; Back this season bigger, stronger, and faster. With the addition of Lee Smith the tight end position appears ready for a return to dominance. Last, but most certainly not least with Donald Penn now signed, sealed, and delivered the offensive line should again be one of the best in the league.

All that said, the Raider offense doesn't really interest me. Before the squad takes its show on the road to Vegas (baby) I (and I know I'm not alone) want to see the Oakland Raiders declared Super Bowl Champions one more time. The old saying: Offense scores points, but defense wins championships as far as I'm concerned still hold true; Which is why my one good eye will be focused on how the Raider defense performs this season.

Let's start at the top (on the field); I fully expect for every offensive coordinator the Raiders face this season to have a bulls eye painted on Oakland defender Khalil Mack. If they're smart, hell they're going to have game plans in place designed just to hinder his attacks. I will not be surprised to see The Defensive Player of the Year facing double teams, being chipped by tight ends, running backs, and anyone else they can think to throw at him. Now, I don't know if Mack is the next Lawrence Taylor, or closer to division the next Derek Thomas, but he may have to be to survive what I expect our opponents have in store for him this season.

Let's start at the top (off the field); When the Raiders announced they were bringing in Ken Norton Jr. to be defensive coordinator I had high expectations; I loved the player that he was on the field and looked forward to him bringing some of that intensity to the Raiders. That was then. Now I have to wonder, with head coach Jack Del Rio specializing in defense, and with the addition of John Pagano to the defensive coaching staff, why is Ken Norton Jr. still here? The seat he's on must be as hot, or as cold as the flame coming out of that dead dragon on Game of Thrones.

With K. Mack being watched, like a fox in the hen house an opportunity for someone (a few someone's) is at hand for them to step up their game. We can start with the middle linebacker position. I don't care if it's the undrafted free agent Nicholas Morrow. I don't care if it's Cory James, or rookie Marquel Lee; All I care about is one of these guys stepping up, and laying claim to this important position. Next, sticking with the line backer spot we're going to need even more production out of Bruce Irving. Moreover, we're going to need to have second year player Shilique Calhoun start to impose his will, and make a name for himself on this defense.

However, first and foremost we're going to need more productive aggression from the interior of the line. I'm hoping that we can get big things (no pun intended) from the 6'4, 305 pound rookie Eddie Vanderdoes; Unfortunately, we just don't know how he's going to handle things when the game turns ugly. While we're on the topic of not knowing how a defender is going to handle things only Al Davis knows what to expect from first round pick, cornerback Gareon Conley.

We all know what the problems are on defense; No pass rush (other then Mack). Controlling the opposing teams running back(s). Coverage of the opposing teams tight end(s). Questions at both corner and safety. Getting off the field on 3rd downs. O.K. I'm tired now. What we don't know (but will soon find out) is has management and the coaching staff done enough to upgrade this side of the ball? Are the players (really) ready to step their game up to a championship level? We'll see how we start (and finish) on Sunday. 

Raider From Birth.                       

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