The Oakland Raiders' struggles on defense -- especially in the secondary -- were among the major roadblocks that stymied their 2017 playoff aspirations after a promising 2016 campaign.
"We weren't very good last year on defense withKhalil Mack," Gruden told NFL Network's Michael Robinson and David Carr on Inside Training Camp Live on Monday. "We've got to get a better pass rush, we've got to play better defense, period. And we hope Khalil gets here, but in the time being, we've got plenty of guys who need work."
The Raiders ranked 23rd in total defense (350.1 yards per game), and they didn't have an interception until Week 12 en route to tallying a league-low five picks for their 26th-ranked passing D.
With Oakland embracing a new-look secondary that includes Rashaan Melvin, Daryl Worley, Shareece Wright, Marcus Gilchrist and Leon Hall, Gruden and coordinator Paul Guenther will try to whip up concrete out of last year's Jell-O. If Gruden can orchestrate a turnaround there, it'll go a long way toward improving the defense overall and quieting the "back to 1998" naysayers.