The last time the Raiders had a defense that ranked inside the top 20 in points allowed per game was way back in 2006 when they finished 18th. That defense was led by Warren Sapp and Derrick Burgess, who each had double-digit sacks that season.
Needless to say, it’s been a long time since the Raiders have had an average defense. But can this be the year the Raiders finally turn things around on that side of the ball? Don’t count on it.
In a recent article by Arif Hasan of Pro Football Network, he ranked all 32 defenses heading into the 2023 NFL season. Not surprisingly, the Raiders did not finish very high on the list, coming in at No. 31. Here is what Hasan had to say about the unit heading into the season:
The Raiders didn’t lose astounding players in free agency, but they didn’t replace those losses with big upgrades either, except perhaps with Marcus Epps at safety. The biggest improvement comes from draft pick Tyree Wilson at EDGE overtaking Clelin Ferrell. But with a weak secondary and linebacker unit, it’s hard to call that enough to see substantial change.
The hope is that the pass rush of the Raiders can cover up their weaknesses at linebacker and in the secondary. Both of those units leave a lot to be desired and could ultimately hold the team back from making the playoffs.
The Raiders don’t need to have a top-ranked defense to be successful during the 2023 season. But they do need the unit to at least play at an average level. That might be a stretch given their talent level on the backend entering the season.