The struggles for Las Vegas Raiders safety Lamarcus Joyner in 2019 are well documented. Can he step up and become a tackling machine for the Silver and Black?
Joyner was one of the big free-agent acquisitions for the Raiders last year. Unfortunately, the team didn’t get their money’s worth. There’s plenty of blame to go around with some of it falling on defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. The defense’s shot-caller, Guenther insisted on playing Joyner out of his natural position that he played in with the Los Angeles Rams and instead, played him in the slot. From there, it was all downhill for the Florida State standout.
Pro Football Focus has given Joyner some of their worst grades for the 2019 season. Again though, it’s not entirely Joyner’s fault that the Raiders coaching staff isn’t using him properly. For example, his overall coverage grade stood at 42.8 while his pass rush was graded at 57.7. Joyner’s run defense grade was passable at 67.1, but PFF graded him 46.2 overall. He took a total of 706 snaps in 2019, as far as his tackles, Joyner totaled 49. Even worse, Joyner’s missed tackle percentage increased from 7.1 to 10.9 in his first season with the Raiders. In all, Joyner gave up 541 receiving yards on his own, up from 279 in 2018.
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Will the Raiders be able to count on Joyner?
The Silver and Black’s head coach Jon Gruden will be counting on Joyner this season. It’s a lot of pressure on the defensive back, the concern remains that he’ll continue to be used in the slot despite obviously struggling. Gruden recently sounded off on what he’s expecting from Joyner.
“We got to be ready to tackle we’ve been under quarantine, we’re wearing masks, we haven’t been able to tackle. We haven’t put a man on the ground yet, we have to tackle better. It starts with Joyner, the nickel corner should be first or second on your team in tackles every year — that’s how it is in Guenther’s defense. So, we need him to really get involved in every single snap in our sub defense and be one of our top tacklers. That’s the number one criteria we’re looking for.”
Those are some lofty expectations for Joyner as Gruden expects him to be in the top two for tackles, team-wise. That’ll be quite the jump for Joyner considering he couldn’t crack the top five last year in solo tackles (41), trailing rookie Trayvon Mullen’s 42. All signs point to the Raiders coaching staff keeping an eye on Joyner right out of the gate. Let’s not forget the team has some rookies who could be vying for some of his snaps. 2020 could prove to be the most anticipated of Joyner’s NFL career.
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