Oakland Raiders 2015 Season Review – Defense.

After giving up nearly 900 yards in the first two games, the defense slowly began to gel. Getting troubled Pass Specialist Aldon Smith was a big key as the team didn’t record a sack until Week 3. After 8 games, the defense was ranked 30th, giving up 412 yards per game. In the second half of the year, the Oakland Raiders improved that average to 316 yards. During a four game span (Weeks 11-14) they held each of their opponents to under 300 yards. At the end of the year, the Oakland Raiders were ranked 22nd in points allowed (24.9), 22nd in total yards (364), 26th in passing (258), and 13th in rushing (105).

DE/OLB Khalil Mack and FS Charles Woodson.

The defensive line was anchored by DE/OLB Khalil Mack whose 15 sacks were second in the NFL. Mack forced offensive coordinators to plan around him as he was constantly wreaking havoc in opponents’ backfields. Pro Football Focus ranked Mack as the league’s top edge defender. JJ Watt is an excellent marketer so he gets a lot more attention from the press, but Khalil Mack has proven to be equally destructive. After DE Justin Tuck was put on IR due to a pectoral tear, rookie Mario Edwards Jr assumed a larger role in the defense until he too was lost to a neck injury in Week 16.

The interior of the line was manned by big bodies, Dan Williams and Justin Ellis, who were solid against the run. The team at times struggled to get sacks. There was a big drop off after Khalil Mack, with LB Malcom Smith being second on the team with 4 sacks. A high note for the Oakland Raiders was the quality and depth in their rotation compared to previous years. Aldon Smith was of course suspended due to behavioral issues prior to his joining the Raiders.

The linebackers featured new faces in MLB Curtis Lofton and OLB Malcom Smith. Rookie OLB Neiron Ball played well before he too was placed on injured reserve. In recent years the Oakland Raiders have been plagued by big plays. This year, opposing teams managed only 10 runs of 20+ yards. That ranks Oakland 10th in the league. While that is a team effort, the linebackers as a unit deserve ample credit. They also must accept their share of the blame for how poorly the team defended TEs, at least in the first half of the year. The coverage was so poor, it almost became a running joke. Malcom Smith led the team with 122 total tackles, ranking him 9th in the NFL. As mentioned previously he was second in sacks with 4, forced 2 fumbles, and recorded 1 interception and 7 passes defended.

LB Malcom Smith and DE/OLB Khalil Mack.

The secondary was supposed to be a major concern for the Oakland Raiders but they proved to be a serviceable unit, improving as the year progressed. The group was led by FS Charles Woodson who led the team with 5 interceptions. According to Pro Football Focus, he surrendered a QBR of 47.1, ranking him the third best Free Safety in the NFL. Woodson was also third on the team with 74 tackles. After SS Nate Allen was lost for most of the season with a knee injury, CB T.J. Carrie proved his worth moving between CB and SS. CB D.J. Hayden played well at times but was inconsistent and lost playing time to David Amerson, who came over from Washington after the second week. Amerson recorded 4 interceptions, including a Pick-6. He was 2nd in the NFL with 29 passes defensed.

CBs T.J. Carrie and David Amerson.

The Oakland Raiders defense got off to a rough start in 2015, overcame injuries and a suspension, and still managed to become a decent unit by season end. They are a youthful group with only 7 players on the entire defense having been in the NFL longer than 5 years. They certainly didn’t play that way in the latter half of the year.


Here’s our review of the Offense.

Our review of the Coaching Staff.

And…Special Teams.


Looking forward to 2016?
You may want to read:

Oakland Raiders Season Review - RAIDERGHOSTS.com


  • RJ

    January 21, 2016

    glad they added a poll

  • Anonymous

    January 21, 2016

    Like the poll. 🙂


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