Why the Raiders Should Hire Mike Smith as a Defensive Coordinator

Initially, it was good news to hear about the Oakland Raiders' interest in interviewing former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith for the defensive coordinator position, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:

If you're aware of Smith's NFL track record, the news was quite invigorating considering the Raiders' young, developing defensive front.

Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 Washington followed up with some deflating news for Smith supporters in Raider Nation:

This is a bit surprising considering Smith and new head coach Jack Del Rio worked well together for six seasons in Jacksonville. Del Rio was the head coach, and Smith was the defensive coordinator. Together, they helped foster a fierce front seven that constantly challenged Peyton Manning and the Colts in the AFC South.

In four out of six seasons, the Jaguars defense ranked in the top 10 in points allowed.

The defensive line was aggressive, led by Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, during most of Smith's tenure with the franchise. Both defensive tackles were equipped to stop the run and apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks, which increased turnover opportunities for the defensive backs.

Under Smith, Stroud accumulated 18 sacks and Henderson 19.5 sacks between the 2003 and 2008 seasons. The numbers are more significant considering the Jaguars played in a 4-3 base defense, where the quarterback pressure typically stems from the defensive ends.

Smith was also able to optimize production from players with average talent. In 2005, Reggie Hayward and Paul Spicer combined for 16 sacks as catalysts to a successful 12-4 record.

In the following season, another set of middling defensive ends led the team in sacks—Bobby McCray (10) and Rob Meier (five). Unrelenting quarterback pressure was Jacksonville's signature under Smith's game plan.


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