Raiders star OLB/DE Khalil Mack had about as good as season as one can on defense in 2016. Mack was named the 2016 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year and became the first player to be named an All-Pro at two positions in one season.
Despite Mack's huge year, the Raiders struggled mightily on defense. Oakland ranked 26th in the NFL as their defense allowed an average of 375.1 yards per game. They also ranked 20th in the league as teams scored an average of 24.1 points per game on them.
Still, the Raiders only signed one player on defense during the offseason. That player, Jelani Jenkins, has been placed on injured reserve with a groin injury.
Was Mack surprised by the lack of moves to address the team's defense?
"That was a shocker for everybody," Mack told The Athletic. "Well … I know Bruce (Irvin) and I talked about it a lot. Yeah, that was unexpected. But those guys upstairs know what they’re doing. We trust in them. And not only that, but we’re all we’ve got and we’re all we need.
"That’s kind of how I look at it. We’re rolling with whoever is out there, and those 11 guys on the field are going to do whatever we can to be great."
Mack was also asked about the lack of pressure up the middle and the Raiders' defensive tackles being a weakness.
"Everybody could see it. A lot of times people on the couch think they can tell what’s going on and they’re often wrong. But that one, everybody could tell," Mack said. "But now, we’ve added some pieces and the guys are stepping up inside.
"We’ve gotten a lot better. And that’s what I was saying earlier about seeing the improvement in guys. Not only from a physical aspect but mental as well. We’re growing as a group, and it’s good to see and a really good feeling."
The Raiders allowed 117.6 rush yards per game last season, the 10th worst in the NFL in 2016.
On Sunday, the Raiders open their regular season against the Titans who boasted the third-best running game in the NFL in 2016 with 136.7 yards per game on the ground.