Yesterday, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther stated the Las Vegas Raiders defense is faster and possesses more depth. Under his command, the defense has seen various struggles since 2018. However, as the team prepares for the season, Guenther believes the team has more athletic defenders than ever before.
Is the Raiders defense really more dynamic?
Dynamic has not been a word to describe the Raiders defense in recent years. Since Jon Gruden’s return to coaching, the Silver and Black’s defense has ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in numerous categories the past two seasons. As the team prepares for their inaugural season in Nevada, Guenther, via the team’s social media, believes that depth is abundant.
“We have some depth across the board, on the secondary, on the D-Line. So we can roll guys through and can create roles for each and every guy . It may be 10 snap to help us win or maybe 60 snaps to help us win. Whatever it is, we have different guys with different with portfolios where you can put those guys on certain spots and utilize their strength.”
The Raiders will have a player such as Maurice Hurst possibly come off the bench specifically for specific scenarios. That’s a sign that the Silver and Black’s pass rush is getting better.
Teams are going to regret passing on Mo Hurst.
First NFL sack in his second game for the Raiders. pic.twitter.com/Hj1nifKYpu
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) September 16, 2018
Similarly, having a safeties like Erik Harris and Jeff Heath splitting snaps ensures efficient substitutions.
The Chiefs go for it on 4th down…
— NFL (@NFL) November 6, 2017
With that being said, Guenther also feels that his defense has improved in another facet.
Is it Faster too?
Many have swooned over the Raiders recent injection of speed on offense, but Guenther says that the defense shouldn’t be overlooked.
“With the young talent that we have, the speed that we have. The first thing I noticed, we are much faster on defense, we got some good rushers. We have some good coverage guys, and that’s what you need in this league to be successful.”
The acquisition of linebacker Cory Littleton is proof of Guenther’s assessment of a ‘good coverage guy’.
LB Cory Littleton —
• Can close & tackle in the open field
• Run & hit traits + pursuit speed
• Coverage ability to match TEs/RBs
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) March 4, 2020
Likewise, the addition of defensive tackle Maliek Collins will surely generate interior pressure with plays like these.
It’s Maliek Collins SZN. #RaiderNation
— CJ (@Errickson_NFL) August 3, 2020
No More Excuses for Porous Defense
In conclusion, the Raiders have added a plethora of talent on the defensive side of the football. As Guenther enters year three with the team, it is time for him to show improvement. Until now, it has been said by some that there is not enough talent on defense to fairly evaluate Guenther’s abilities as a coach. While that may be partially true, there is no excuse for being 2019’s 31st worst defense in allowing explosive passing plays (over 15 yards or more).
While the Sharp Football Stats seem harsh, the reality is that results need to be had regardless of what talent is or isn’t available. By Gunther’s own admission, the defense has been improved. It is up to him to maximize the talents of his players, rather than subject them to a scheme that has yet to prove worthy.
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Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal