Can the Oakland Raiders' Defense Capture More Wins?

By Carlton Chin
Charles Woodson
Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports

Previously, we graded the Oakland Raiders‘ offense and reviewed the importance of the quarterback in today’s modern NFL offenses. In this article, we take a closer look at defense and how improvements can help the Raiders’ win total for the 2014 season.

We gave the Raiders a report card for various categories in a previous article. The defense earned the following grades:

  • Defensive Line: B-
  • Defensive Backs: B+
  • Safeties: B

Some might say that the grades are lenient for a team that gave up the most points (453) in the AFC and ranked 29th out of 32 NFL teams in points against. However, if we take a closer look, we see that the Raiders gave up almost 200 points in four games alone. The Raiders had to play the Denver Broncos twice and ran into a red-hot Philadelphia Eagles team. In addition, the divisional rival Kansas City Chiefs were coming off of a dry spell and took things out on the Raiders during the Raiders’ season-ending tailspin.

Even if we discount those runaway games, we can see that there is plenty of room for improvement. While the defensive side of the sport is more team-related than the offense, a “wins above average” (WAA) approach by position can help us to better analyze strengths and weaknesses. When breaking down the defense by category, we see that the Raiders’ weakest link is the defensive line.

Highlights include linebackers as well as aging veteran Charles Woodson. The numbers show that the defensive line cost the Raiders roughly two wins (WAA). The secondary was also below average and cost the team about one win. If the team can help Woodson in the secondary and strengthen the defensive line, the Raiders should definitely improve their win total in 2014. In particular, analysts believe that the Raiders will go after big-name free agents such as defensive end Jared Allen.

The Raiders have money to use this offseason and certain moves can improve the defense materially. Indeed, the numbers show that focusing on defense by adding a game-breaker and shoring up the defensive line and secondary has the potential to add at least three wins — for the defense alone — to the 2014 total. It will be interesting to see what the Raiders do when Mar. 11 rolls by.

Carlton Chin is a quant researcher and sports analysis contributor at Rant Sports. Please follow him on Twitter @QuantFacts, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your Google network.

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