It’s safe to say the Oakland Raiders have not had the best season so far. They’re currently 3-6 at the bottom of the AFC West. History says that the Raiders probably won’t be making the playoffs, however, they wouldn’t be where they are right now if it wasn’t for their defense.
The Raiders are ranked 17th in total yards allowed, have 26.0 sacks on the season — good enough for a tie for 14th — and are tied for seventh in defensive touchdowns. So, why does the Raiders’ defense have so much under appreciation?
In recent years, the Raiders have not had the best defense. Frankly, it’s been one of the league’s worst. This year, though, it seems like the Raiders finally have something coming together for them on the defensive side of the ball. D.J. Hayden, the rookie out of Houston, has an interception and a forced fumble on the season, along with Mike Jenkins, Usama Young, Charles Woodson and Tracy Porter, who has two INTs.
Woodson has denfinitely been a big contributor for the Raiders this season, as he decided to come back for the Silver and Black after leaving the team after the 2004-05 season. He’s third on the team in solo tackles with 39, and has one sack and one forced fumble. Another key player on the Raiders defense? Porter, who came to the Raiders after stints with the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints, has 34 solo tackles with 1.5 sacks. He also set a record in the game against the New York Giants, becoming the first player ever to return an interception for a touchdown against both Peyton Manning and Eli Manning.
The Raiders’ defense hasn’t been as bad as everyone predicted, but they haven’t been the best, either. Maybe, given some time and, yes, a little love, they could become a top-tier defensive team.