Rush to Defense: Oakland Raiders Need a Good Game to Open the Season

There is a distinct air of optimism surrounding the Oakland Raiders this offseason, and with good reason.

The team improved the coaching ranks, preserving continuity by bringing back Tom Cable and finally hiring an honest to goodness offensive coordinator in Hue Jackson.

They made some smart trades, improving positions of weakness for little in return, such as Jason Campbell for a conditional fourth round pick and SAM LB Kamerion Wimbley for a third rounder. Those two deals in particular are already looking like steals.

The marriage of Campbell's football IQ and Jackson's offensive creativity has produced playcalling that looks like an NFL offense in all facets, even if there is still some rust to knock off. 

The Raiders also did some intelligent drafting, emphasizing production and leadership with need players like Rolando McClain, Lamarr Houston, and Jared Veldheer in the early rounds, and waiting to grab players with great measurables like Jacoby Ford and Bruce Campbell until the appropriate time.

The acquisition of Jason Campbell and the hiring of Jackson aside, the Raiders major offseason moves were tailored toward one obvious goal: improve the run defense. 

With very, very good reason. 

In the seven seasons spanning 2003-2009—or as many Raider fans call them, the lost years—the Raiders have finished 30th or worse in run defense a whopping four times. Their average rank against the run in that time span is 28th, and they have allowed more yards and more touchdowns on the ground than any other team.

It's no coincidence that the Raiders have double-digit losses in each of those seasons, a dubious and ongoing NFL record that the team and fans would like to forget and are looking to quell this season.

The Raiders have lost the season opener in every one of t...

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