There was much debate if the Oakland Raiders would bring back their assistant coaches. Last week, the team agreed to terms with assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano and today they have reached a deal with defensive coordinator Jason Tarver to remain with the team in the same capacity. Tarver's previous deal was set to expire today.
Tarver was brought on when head coach Dennis Allen took the head coaching position two seasons ago. There was some doubt if any of them would return because of back to back 4-12 seasons. Now, the Raiders staff is coming together and it will look very similar to last season.
Early in the year, the Oakland defense looked like it had taken a massive step forward. Through the first seven games of 2013, the Raiders defense had only allowed more than 21 points once to Peyton Manning and the high powered Denver Broncos. However the next week, they allowed Nick Foles to tie and NFL record with seven passing touchdowns. From that point forward, the Raiders defense struggled to slow teams down and allowed 30 plus points in four of their final five games.
Tarver has been saddled with a rebuilding project since he took the defensive coordinator position. The team had salary cap issues which prevented them from adding serious talent to that side of the ball and the team in general. This past season, Tarver led the Raiders to a 22nd ranking in total defense. They were 28th in the league against the pass allowing 255.8 yards per game and 13th against the run allowing 107.9 yards per game. It was a marked improvement for the defense generating sacks and turnovers from Tarver's first season. The defense went from 25 sacks and 19 turnovers forced to 38 sacks and 22 turnovers.
This offseason the Raiders should be able to get some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. They hold the fifth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and are flush with salary cap space. For Tarver it will be greater expectations with the likely more talented group. He has been successful dialing up pressure which is the calling card for his defenses. Now he may be able to get the players needed to make his system a bigger success.
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