Oakland Raiders: Andre Carter Bolsters Needy Pass Rush

For all the talent the Oakland Raiders have on the defensive line, the group is surprisingly poor at rushing the quarterback. The defensive front has generated five sacks in three games, but they don’t tell the whole story to Oakland’s futility getting to the quarterback in 2012.

The team announced the signing of veteran defensive end Andre Carter, which gives the Raiders a legitimate pass-rusher to complement the rest of the defensive line. The NFL puts a premium on pass-rushers, and Carter was probably the only free agent on the market who could actually make a significant impact.

Carter bolsters a group that includes players that have proved effective rushing the quarterback in the past. Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour have been two of the better pass-rushing defensive tackles over the past two seasons, and Matt Shaughnessy leads the team with three sacks despite being inconsistent.  

The need to sign Carter was precipitated by the release of Kamerion Wimbley in the offseason. Wimbley was Oakland’s best pass-rusher for the last two seasons and his rush off the edge had a trickle-down effect on Kelly and Seymour. To a lesser extent, the same things should happen with Carter on the field as a situational pass-rusher.

Oakland’s pass rush graded out as the sixth best in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, in 2011, but in 2012 it has been the worst in the league. The Raiders averaged 2.4 sacks per game in 2011, compared with 1.7 so far in 2012. The Raiders are on pace for just 27 sacks, which would have been better than just one team in 2011. It’s pretty clear that something needed to be done.

Oakland signed defensive end Dave Tollefson in the offseason in hopes that he—along with a healthy Shaughnessy—would replace the production lost when Wimbley was released. Through three games, that simply has not been the case. Tollefson figures to lose the most snaps...

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