Raiders coach Jon Gruden has said repeatedly that he wants to get a contract done that will end Khalil Mack‘s holdout and bring the star pass rusher to camp, but Gruden also noted that even with Mack, Oakland’s defense will have plenty of work to do.
Gruden said on NFL Network that the Raiders’ defense wasn’t good enough last year, even with Mack, who is widely regarded as one of the league’s best defensive players.
“We weren’t very good last year on defense with Khalil Mack,” Gruden said. “We didn’t have an interception, I think, all year. I don’t know if we intercepted a pass until Week 14. We’ve got to get a better pass rush, we’ve got to play better defense, period. And we hope Khalil gets here, but in the time being, we’ve got plenty of guys who need work.”
Gruden’s stats weren’t quite right, but he made a valid point: The Raiders’ first interception of the season didn’t come until the 11th game of 2017, and Oakland finished dead last in the NFL, with just five interceptions.
The Raiders’ defense was one of the worst in the NFL last year, and that was with Mack starting all 16 games. Getting Mack in camp isn’t the only thing the Raiders need to do to get better.