I believe the 1983 Los Angeles Raiders represent everything that their creator Al Davis dreamed of on both sides of the ball. His football philosophy was all about pressure and toughness on both sides of the ball. He believed that you literally beat the hell out of your opponents on both sides of the ball to beat them. I mean you look at that defense with Howie Long and Lyle Alzado as your defensive ends. Howie Long, arguably being the best all around defensive end and perhaps defensive lineman of the 1980s.
And then you have Bill Pickel and Reggie Kinlaw inside. Who were both stout against the run and rush the quarterback as well. And then the linebackers, you’re talking Ted Hendricks, perhaps the best all around outside linebacker of all-time. Pro Bowler Matt Millen inside, Rod Martin on the other side, who perhaps should be in the Hall of Fame as well. They had two cover corner in Lester Hays and Mike Haynes. Most teams are lucky to have one.
Man for man, I believe the Raiders were better in 83 than the Chicago Bears were in 85. You argue about the numbers and stats, but I believe the 83 Raiders and the versatility of their linebackers were better than the Bears linebackers who were primarily blitzers and run stuffers. But teams don’t win the Super Bowl just with a great defense. You need at least to have a good offense that moves the ball and puts up points and doesn’t turn the ball over on a regular basis and makes the job of your defense even harder.
And the Raiders in 83 had more than that led by quarterback Jim Plunkett and the great tailback Marcus Allen. One of the top 5-10 all around running backs of all-time. And they had tight end Todd Christiansen and the great Cliff Branch on the outside as a receiver. A big strong offensive line with Bruce Davis, Charley Hannah, Mickey Marvin, Dave Dalby, who was part of all three Raiders Super Bowl championships and Henry Lawrence. Big strong mobile offensive line that was great in the running and passing games.
To me at least the 1983 Los Angeles Raiders represent what the Raiders of the 1980s should have been. They were poised and ready to replace the Pittsburgh Steelers from the 1970s as the dominant team in the NFL and I believe were in better shape and had better personal than the 1980s San Francisco 49ers who became the team of the 1980s in the NFL. And you can’t call the 1980s Raiders a failure since they did win two Super Bowls and made the AFC Playoffs five times and won three division championships. A great decade for most clubs in the NFL, but the Raiders actually underachieved.
Al Davis, almost ruined Marcus Allen’s career and not allowing his coaches to use him in the way they should which was as their premier player on offense. And they were never able to replace an aging Jim Plunkett at QB. I mean the reason why the NFC won thirteen straight Super Bowls in the 1980s and 90s, was because post-83 the Raiders slipped and became a team that was just fighting to make the playoffs every year. With the Denver Broncos taking the lead in the AFC West over the Raiders. But for one season in 83 we got to see how great the 1980s Raiders could have been.