This is the second year of a new regime with many new faces within the Oakland Raiders organization that have made positive impacts. However, one of those faces you may not hear about in national headlines has had a tremendous impact under the radar, defensive line coach Brentson Buckner.
The rookie class as we all know has been impressive, especially Josh Jacobs, who is putting together a strong offensive rookie of the year campaign. Maxx Crosby has been ripping into opposing backfields with reckless abandon and making a case for defensive rookie of the year. Alec Ingold is said to be a “descendant of Thor himself” with his ability to do anything Jon Gruden tasks him with. New general manager Mike Mayock is a leading candidate for executive of the year in the NFL.
Buckner for his part, has brought eighteen years of NFL coaching experience, and twelve years of playing in the NFL prior. As seen on Hard Knocks, Buckner not only brings energy to the Raiders defensive line. He also brings accountability, something that the front office is seeking in laying the foundation for this team.
Change was desperately needed after the Raiders defense who only generated an abysmal thirteen sacks in 2018. The only remaining defensive linemen from the start of 2018 are Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall. Both of which, were rookies at the time. That is an incredible amount of turnover in the span of two years for anyone to overcome. Let alone a team that has been struggling on the defensive side of the ball for over a decade.
The Winds of Change
This year, things have changed in the defensive trenches for the Raiders. Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby have ten total combined sacks. That’s good enough for leading all NFL teams with rookie production in that department. They also combine for sixteen tackles for loss. Both are assets in getting to the QB and stopping the run. An old friend in Benson Mayowa is also contributing. He accounts for seven sacks. The trio has formed to be more than serviceable, and help is on the way with Dion Jordan, who also added a sack in his debut against Cincinnati last week. A combination of youth and veteran leadership with Jonathan Hankins is providing to be a spark for a unit yearning for change.
You can visually notice a change on the field as well. The defensive linemen are focused and hungry. They are celebrating after tackles for loss, pass deflections and sacks alike. When called on, they have generated pressure to seal the deal on the final drives of the past three games that led to game clinching interceptions.
Buckner is an active and vital component of this team and organization. He has brought life, not just to the defensive line, but also to the entire team. His words, his attitude, his energy are infectious. He is the man that few talk about in the national media, but all recognize in the mighty Oakland Raider organization and more importantly, in Raider Nation, Ramble On.