The addition of Rod Marinelli to the Las Vegas Raiders staff seemed like a no-brainer when it happened. However, the Silver and Black’s front-four has failed to make an impact under the defensive line coach in the first two weeks of the season.
Looking back at the Raiders’ decision to hire Rod Marinelli
The Raiders brought in Marinelli with the intention of maximizing their young defensive linemen. Two years ago, the Silver and Black’s defensive line accounted for 10 of the team’s 13 sacks. Nevertheless, they saw a spike in production in 2019. Rookie defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby helped the unit finish the year with 32 quarterback takedowns. That tangible improvement happened under former defensive line coordinator Brentson Buckner’s watch, whom the team deemed expendable, and was let go after 2019.
We don’t know what reasons the Raiders had to part ways with Buckner, but Marinelli surely looked like an upgrade this past offseason. After all, the coach was responsible for developing plenty of defensive linemen such as Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice. The team’s brass was probably hoping Marinelli could tap Ferrell’s and Crosby’s potential, but the results have been far from optimal.
Let’s give Marinelli the benefit of the doubt
To Marinelli’s credit, third-year defensive end Arden Key has looked solid. Nevertheless, the Raiders defensive line hasn’t performed up to expectations. They brought in Maliek Collins in the offseason, but the former Cowboys defensive tackle has failed to distinguish himself. In two games with the Silver and Black, he has registered one tackle, two hurries, and one hit. The same rings true for defensive end Carl Nassib, who joined this Las Vegas team in free agency. So far, he has registered half of the team’s one sack this season, three hits, and three tackles.
The Raiders surely expect more from their newcomers, but Crosby and Ferrell haven’t stood out either. Neither has recorded a sack despite playing a high volume of snaps on defense this year. It’s too early to panic and the unit may need some time to gel. Their performance heated up in the second half of the 2019 season, so it’s not outlandish to think lightning could strike twice. Alas, the early returns haven’t been encouraging.
The Raiders defensive line may turn out to be just fine down the road and we will look back at these first two weeks and have a good laugh. However, until that happens, this is a situation worth following.
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Top Photo: D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press