The Oakland Raiders were defenseless at times in 2012.
Over a four-game stretch in November, the Raiders gave up 42, 55, 38 and 34 points, and for the season overall, Oakland seven times allowed 30 or more points in a game.
The defense ranked 28th in the league, allowing an average of 27.7 points in a game, ranked 18th in total defense (allowing 354.5 yards per game), and 20th in both rushing and passing defense.
For first-year defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and his players, it was a rough year. The defensive lack of production played a big part in Oakland finishing 4-12 in the first year of head coach Dennis Allen.
Yet when Allen this week announced that four coaches had been fired, Tarver was not among the casualties. As the Raiders enter what should be an important offseason, Tarver remains with the team and Allen told the media that he liked what he saw over the last few weeks of the season.
“I was pleased with where Jason was,” Allen told reporters. “J.T. does a good job for us. He’s a very smart football coach. He, like all of us, he’s the first time in that position and so we all go through a learning curve in that position, and that’s something we’ve looked at throughout this organization, guys that are the first time doing that particular job, and we’ll grow from it.”
Over the final three games of 2012, the Raiders shut out the Chiefs, gave up 17 points to Carolina and 21 to the Chargers. Over the final five games, the Raiders held every opponent to 26 points or less, a big improvement.
Tarver and Allen brought a new philosophy to the Oakland defense, with more stunts, blitzing and varied coverages, a departure from the Al Davis era when man-to-man coverages were a preference. But in his first season as a defensive coordinator, Tarver had to adapt as the season progressed. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain was ineffective, lost his job and then was suspended; both starting cornerbacks were lost by Game 2; defensive lineman Richard Seymour was hurt; and safety Michael Huff transitioned to corner. Without an influx of high draft picks and cap space, the Raiders’ talent was thin going into 2012, and got even thinner.
Allen is hoping that by sticking with Tarver – hired last year from Stanford, where he was co-defensive coordinator after a long stint as a 49ers assistant – the Raiders can build on the improvements they made in the last portion of the season.
“Again, I said this from the beginning, I’m not in this for a one-year deal,” Allen told the media. “I’m in this long-term. I’m in this to build this thing the right way. And I’m excited about looking forward to the future and where this organization is going to go.”