The Oakland Raiders 2012 defensive season was defined by inconsistency. There were times when the defense looked like a unit that could play with any team and times where they looked like they could be the worst in the league.
Linebacker Philip Wheeler came to the Raiders this season via free agency and became one of their best defensive players. The always active Wheeler led the Raiders in tackles with 109 and forced fumbles with two. He was a standout with his ability to locate the football and make sure tackles as well as punishing hits. He added three quarterback sacks while displaying a knack for coming on the blitz. Rookie linebacker Miles Burris complemented Wheeler well on the other side and finished second on the team with 96 tackles. In his first year, Burris shined as a player Oakland can build around. Burris added one and a half sacks as well as an interception to his 2012 campaign.
One of the areas the Raiders came up short in 2012 was on the defensive line. Defensive tackle Richard Seymour missed the final eight games of the season and finished the year with three sacks. Oakland was only able to account for 25 sacks the entire season. Defensive end Lamaar Houston led the team with four and a half sacks and nine tackles for loss. Houston showed tremendous hustle all year making crucial plays for the defense. He and Wheeler are the Raiders defensive co-MVP.
The Raiders secondary suffered from devastating injuries in 2012. Both starting cornerbacks from week one, Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, missed considerable time. Spencer was lost for the season after week two and Bartell played in six games before getting released. The impact of the injuries forced free safety Michael Huff to move to cornerback. Huff has target by opposing quarterbacks because of his inexperience and took his bumps. He progressed as the season went forward and tied for the team lead in interceptions with two and led the team with 13 pass defenses. Phillip Adams came on strong late in the season for Oakland taking a starting job, but was derailed in both his starts by injuries. Joselio Hanson had a sixth sense for creating turnovers with two interceptions and a team leading two fumble recoveries. Strong safety Tyvon Branch led the secondary players with 94 tackles.
Despite their inconsistency, the Raiders defense played well late in the year. After allowing 169 points in a four game stretch during the middle of the season, the Oakland defense responded giving up 41 in their final three games which included a shutout victory.
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