While the Raiders defense has struggled this season, there are a couple of bright spots.
The Oakland Raiders have had their fair share of defensive issues this season, but there are still a couple of bright spots.
The Raiders are allowing a NFL-worst 30.9 points per game this season, but at least two Raider defenders are turning in solid seasons. As the Bay Area Sports Guy noted, defensive end Lamarr Houston and linebacker Philip Wheeler rank among the best defenders in the entire league.
Wheeler, who is in his first season with the Raiders, leads Oakland with 97 tackles this season. While he only has two sacks on the season, he's been one of the best at pressuring the quarterback.
Wheeler's pass rush productivity is the best among 4-3 outsider linebackers. It's better than Von Miller, though Wheeler has roughly 1/4 of the attempts. Still, his 23 total pressures only 91 rush attempts is impressive.
While he hasn't quite maintained the level of play from early in the season, Wheeler still ranks among the NFL's best outside linebackers in a number of categories.
Houston's three sacks may not seem like a lot for a defensive end, but his effectiveness goes beyond statistics. According to Pro Football Focus, Houston is the 15th most productive pass rusher among 4-3 defensive ends who've played at least 75 percent of their team's plays. That is based on not only sacks, but quarterback hits and quarterback pressures.
Wheeler and Houston account for just two of 11 defensive starters, but their strong play is at least something for the Raiders to build on going forward.