For the first time since training camp began, the Oakland Raiders will have a healthy defense. We all saw how horrible the Raiders defense looked last week against the New Orleans Saints, but that performance should not be indicative of how the Raiders defense will play this season. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver must treat the upcoming preseason game against the Chicago Bears as a regular season game because this will be the Raiders defense’s only chance to play together before the season starts.
Dennis Allen was hired because of his promise to bring a hybrid defensive scheme that would bring the Raiders defense into the 21st century. However, the Raider nation has not seen any progress on the defensive side of the ball. The Raiders defensive issues under Allen have been because of lack of effort and injuries. We all know that the NFL is a no excuse business, so the Raiders defensive turnaround must begin now.
The Raiders defensive line has looked atrocious so far in preseason. We should see an improved unit now that expected starters Lamarr Houston, Vance Walker and Pat Sims finally lace up the pads for the Raiders. Not only will these three veteran lineman need to get into game shape but they also must switch between the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes that Dennis Allen promised to run when he was hired. Young players Jack Crawford and David Bass have shown great potential so far, so it will be exciting to see how they play with the veteran presence. The return of Houston, Walker, and Sims will also be key for the new look linebacker core. We can finally see what Burnett, Moore, and Roach can do with more room to make plays.[youtube id="llLcuVvBZ1M" width="600" height="350"]
First round pick DJ Hayden will make his debut for the Raiders on Friday as well. This will be Hayden’s first glimpse of the football field since his horrific heart injury that he suffered in practice at the University of Houston. Hayden has the look of a star cornerback but we need to find out if he is fully comfortable making hits after his injury. If Hayden come back to full health he should start opposite of Mike Jenkins to give the Raiders their best defensive backfield in years.
Forget about the performances the Raiders defense has put on over the last couple of preseason games. Friday’s game against the Chicago Bears will finally give us a chance to see what the new look Raiders defense can do.