The Raiders’ 2013 season is officially (and mercifully) over. We’ll be looking back at the team’s season in various installments this week. We previously covered the offense here. Next up: the defense…
The Raiders defense started out the year appearing as if it was the team’s better unit when compared to the offense, and for a time early in the year that appeared to be true. But as the season went on, and as the team’s fortunes crumbled, it became clear the defense wasn’t as reliable as some might have hoped, and it showed on the field as well as the statbook. The Raiders ended the season ranked 26th in defensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders.
Some other stats: second-to-last in interceptions (9), 18th in sacks (38), and a -9 giveaway/takeaway difference.
That’s exactly right, 50 Cent.
But looking across the defense, there are some nice pieces. Reggie McKenzie did a decent job revamping the defense with hand-me-downs and parts from the junk yard out of what little resources he had. DT Pat Sims, LB Nick Roach, corners Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins and Mr. 24 himself Charles Woodson were some of the new players players brought in to fill holes on that side of the ball and who also ended up giving the Raiders good value for their budget-friendly price tags.
But still, the defense, in addition to depth, was lacking a playmaker or two who could take over a game or shift momentum. Those are places where the team needs to focus its efforts in the offseason. The only issue is that a lot of those guys mentioned above were brought in on cheap, one-year deals last offseason and will be unrestricted free agents this year. And that’s without even mentioning DE Lamarr Houston, one the best players on the Raiders TEAM, not just the defense, is also set to become a free agent and attract a ton of attention from other teams hunting for a star defensive end. Houston is already setting up his deflectors for blame when he jumps town by playing the good ol’ “I wanna stay but it’s up to management because it’s a business” card. There isn’t a positional unit on the defense that doesn’t need improvement this offseason, but the d-line losing Houston would set that unit back considerably.
So, basically, Reggie McKenzie certainly has his work cut out for him for a second year in a row. But hey, unlike last year and the year before that, cap room will actually be existent this year.
Overall grade: C.
PREVIOUSLY on Raiders 2013 season postmortem: