Keeping opposing offenses in check is exactly what the Oakland Raiders are doing no matter how many yards the team end up giving the Raiders defensive unit holds up their end of the stick. The battles in the trenches towards the end of the season the defense needs to be ready if they are going to continue to hold to the lead in the AFC west.
A division that really has only two teams battle for the division one with the Miracle Baby that is tying defenders in knots Tim Tebow and the Broncos and the other is the Raiders the team looking to everything it takes to win no matter who injured on the team or what penalties they face the team has found way to win this season something that was missing in the past few season even last season when the team went 8-8.
With a record of 7-4 and going to facing Miami this week by winning can continue to put the Raiders on a pace where the last time they were they faced the Bucs in the Super Bowl.
The secondary as a whole looks stronger and more powerful than the last few seasons it looks like anyone of the defensive backs on the field can shine at any given moment. The unit as a whole is more developed and have a better understanding of what the defensive coordinator wants them to do and be on each play. The only regret is in past few games the unit seems to get tired out down the stretch of the fourth quarter allowing the opposing to threaten to catch up.
In the mist of all this the same unit needs has corrected some of the penalties they had made earlier in the season but at times the young secondary does have a way to get distracted from the opponent. The team as a whole has 15 interceptions and ranks sixth in the league. Safety Tyvon Branch leads the raiders this season with 84 total tackles and is really making a name for himself this season he also has one interception. the surprise at the comes at the free safety position where Matt Giordano steps in for Michael Huff from time to time. Giordano leads the team with three interceptions and has a sack from the free safety position.
Of course as unit there are somethings they can be worked on in the coming games but this unit is greatly improved from this to last season and you can see it in the games played.
Another bonus in the passing game is the linebackers are grabbing picks and making the necessary tackles required by a linebacker core to defend the short passes at times the same linebackers follow the receiver or running back 20 yards making sure they are defended something the Raiders lack in the recent past season.
This leads to defending the run and rushing the quarterback. The linebackers look fierce and its exactly what the Raiders coaches were looking for led by second year player Rolando McClain leading the unit with 57 tackles and 2 sacks a punch silver and black medicine the Raiders use to defend. The young linebacker is surrounded by veteran talent at that position Kamerion Wimbley leading the team with 9 sacks and Aaron Curry rounding out the linebackers starters for the Raiders coming from Seattle earlier in the season now found home and fits right in extremely well.
There are several factors that have come into play while defending the run this season and when the Raiders are ready and alert they look like one of the best rush defenses in the league. On the other hand they the Raiders still need a bit of work getting to the opposing quarterback for some reason they only have 19 sacks . With great veteran leaders on the line like Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly that know exactly how to get to the quarterback and have Houston and Jarvis Moss only makes it stronger and more powerful.
This can only start to improved by starting to defend the run in the fourth quarter. The defensive unit as whole towards the end of games needs to focus better and not relax. However, they did excellent against defending running back Matt Forte in the game this past Sunday by holding him to under 70 yards in the game. As the defense kept the Bears in check winning 25-20.
The Raiders find themselves in the mist of a playoff race for the first time in eight seasons since they lost to Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl they were considered the laughing stock of the NFL. But last year things began to change as they end on positive note by having 8-8 season. This year they look to be on the right track again and know one can contest to that, not even their critics as they lead their division and on the way to the playoffs with only five games left in the season.
The Raiders defense looks ready and is driven to provide Oakland what they need to compete in the playoffs. Placing fears into opposing offenses makes them a dangerous bunch to face in the playoffs.