The new and improved Las Vegas Raiders defense is earning their respect one snap at a time. Las Vegas defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday, in large part due to the play of the Gus Bradley-led unit in Heinz Field. Pittsburgh presented an entirely different challenge for the Silver and Black, and they still performed admirably.
The defensive line keeps up the pressure…
Defensive Line: B+
Topping their Week 1 performance would be a difficult task for Maxx Crosby and co., especially with his running mate Yannick Ngakoue hindered by a hamstring injury.
But fret not, the Raiders got a two-sack day from *re-reads the box score* Solomon Thomas?
Crosby and Ngakoue did their best to hog the pressures in Week 1. However, this past week, we saw a more even distribution of the team’s eighteen total pressures. On top of that, the Steelers were held to thirty-nine yards rushing. Pittsburgh isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with the ground game, but seeing a Raider opponent not break for at least one long run play is a very refreshing sight.
Get well soon, Nicholas Morrow…
The Raiders linebacker group appeared to be incredibly deep until injuries took their toll. Sunday, the Raiders found themselves down Nick Kwiatkoski, leaving Cory Littleton, KJ Wright, and Denzel Perryman to shoulder the load.
Perryman would lead the team in tackles, with Wright making the occasional heady play expected of a veteran of his caliber. Then, we have Littleton; watching him can become maddening. There are times when the former L.A. Ram looks worth every penny the Raiders spent to poach him just two short offseason’s ago. Other times, he looks completely lost out there. My hope was the change in the scheme would benefit Littleton. Unfortunately, these first two games have renewed my concerns.
Nicholas Morrow can’t get healthy fast enough.
The secondary showed depth…
The Raiders secondary showed glimpses of what could be a very talented unit. Clemson product Trayvon Mullen may have given up a deep ball to Diontae Johnson, but he did pick off an errant pass in the first quarter. Veteran Casey Hayward was tested deep on more than one occasion and delivered amazing results. Johnathan Abram continues to flourish in his new primary role of a box safety, and second-round selection Tre’von Moehrig patrolled centerfield proficiently.
Then, Damon Arnette entered the game due to a brief absence from Mullen. While he may have had a great pass breakup early into his shift, he would then give up a bomb to Chase Claypool. Arnette then forgot to touch Claypool, allowing him to get up and gain a few extra yards. It is almost as if he was jogging straight to the locker room. The absence of Roderic Teamer means we also got to enter the Dallin Leavitt Experience once again. While Leavitt did miss a tackle on Steelers rookie Najee Harris that resulted in a 25-yard score, he did eventually cause a crucial incompletion in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders’ secondary seems so much more confident in this new Cover 3 scheme. That becomes paramount when you share a division with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images