The Raiders defense hasn’t been known for being a powerhouse, but going into year two of his tenure with the team, Paul Guenther should be able to field a good defensive unit.
The Oakland Raiders defense wasn’t very good in 2018 but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or a plan. Guenther hasn’t been a top notch coordinator during his coaching career but the Bengals had a steady unit under his watch from to 2014 to 2017.
Last year, the Raiders traded cornerstone edge defender Khalil Mack before the season started and other than maybe cornerback Gareon Conley, the defense was devoid of talent. After going out of their way to get reinforcements in both the 2019 NFL Draft and free agency, Guenther is going to have the key pieces he needs to fully implement his vision and young players to mold to his liking.
Last year, the team produced a mere 13 sacks. Six players generated more on their own than the Raiders defensive unit as a whole and five generated as many. Mack was sorely missed last year but the team looks to rebound after drafting premier defensive end Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby, a raw but interesting prospect.
Moreover, the Raiders brought in veterans Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict to patch a leaky linebackers corps. Those additions would suffice to improve the defense but former Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner will also join a secondary that added rookie safety Jonathan Abram and Trayvon Muller, who is expected to play opposite to Conley.
All these additions should hype most fans, but even though Guenther talked about all the talent these players bring, it’s too early to make predictions or to fully evaluate the personnel he has in place. At this point, he’s just trying to “get better” every day.
Via the team’s official website, Guenther said “it’s hard to tell” how the defense will look and that he “will have a better feel” for where they are at once they start having contact, which is refreshing as he is trying to stay grounded and do what he was brought in to do, win football games.
It is indeed too premature to tell whether Guenther will succeed, but based on what he has said, 2018 looks more like an outlier than the norm and he should be able to have the success he enjoyed back in Cincinnati.
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