The Las Vegas Raiders signed Nick Kwiatkoski to bolster their defense this past offeason. The former Bears linebacker is ready to take over defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s unit.
The Raiders decided to stop patching their defense and invested heavily in their linebacker corps. In free agency, Kwiatkoski joined the team to patrol the middle of the field. Furthermore, he will be leading the defense and wearing the green dot on his helmet.
In a conversation with Raiders insider Eddie Paskal, Kwiatkoski talked about his experience joining the Raiders. Amidst a unique offseason, the veteran said that things are going well. “I’m still in Chicago, working out and training. You know, we started virtual meetings, things like that. I’m just taking it day-by-day, and I’m trying to get a place on Vegas and just kind of taking things slow and see what happens.”
Later, Kwiatkoski added that, “I’ve never experienced anything like it, but it’s been good so far. It definitely takes a little more time mentally, watching film, going over notes, things like that that. We don’t get that experience of getting on the field and doing it for real. Just gotta to get those extra minutes in, the books, film, things like that. It’s been good so far. As we continue, there should be new things that pop-up am I get channels without doing the field but so far it’s been great.”
In 2019, Kwiatkoski had his best statistical season in the NFL. He had 73 tackles, three sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and a safety. He pointed out that was due to a combination of many things. “Great teammates, great coaches. Things like that. Then, preparation between/before games. It’s something the linebacker room as a whole we did. Whether we were starting, whether you were inactive. In the whole room, we prepared as if we were all starting. We really helped each other throughout the week, just bouncing ideas, watching film together. Things of that nature, and that really propelled us, helped me perform.”
He later talked about wearing the green dot on his helmet, “It’s definitely a responsibility. I’ve done it in the past. I’m ready for it, but it’s definitely a great thing hear this early as well.”
Also, he mentioned the challenges that come with leading the defense, “It’s a matter of communication. That starts before you can step on the field. Practicing, just getting these calls out. Working with everyone. Just being able to communicate from the D-line all in the back end and just being smooth with it.”
Although the linebacker position has been hit-or-miss for the Raiders, Kwiatkoski looks ready to stabilize it for years to come. Based on his conversation with Paskal, it looks like he’s aware of his role as a leader of the defense.
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