One of the strengths of the Oakland Raiders heading into the 2011 season was supposed to be their defensive line. Headed by one of the better defensive linemen to have played the game in Richard Seymour, the young Raiders defensive line was supposed to improve off of a very impressive 2010 season. Unfortunately, those expectations never came to fruition.
The Raiders went from having the 2nd most sacks in 2010 to 15th in the league in 2011. The Raiders defensive line had 14 tackles for a loss in 2011 compared to 24 in 2010. Overall, the defensive line in 2011 appeared to be more of a liability than a strength. Opposing quarterbacks often had all day to pick apart the Raiders secondary, and opposing running backs salivated at the opportunity to play the Raiders.
A big reason the Raiders defensive line struggled this season was due to injuries. Starting defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, who many believed would have a break out season in 2011, missed all but three games due to injury. In addition, Richard Seymour played a large part of the season with an injury as well. While the Raiders had good defensive line depth, the drop off in talent and the inability to keep the linemen fresh with frequent rotations clearly hurt the Raiders.
This was a down year for the Raiders defensive line and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back. Getting healthy, however, will not be the only concern for the Raiders defensive line this off season. With the Raiders head coaching search taking longer than some might have expected, the Raiders lost the opportunity to re-sign Mike Waufle as their defensive line coach as he signed with the St. Louis Rams before Dennis Allen was hired. This could be a big loss for the Raiders as Waufle is considered one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL.