Despite only displaying a small sample, it’s obvious the Las Vegas Raiders defense needs linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski back soon.
Kwiatkoski was one of the first prized free-agent signings that the Raiders made this offseason. The linebacker almost instantly received green dot responsibilities and become the on-field leader of the Raiders defense. Due to a pectoral injury that he sustained in Week 1, Kwiatkoski has yet to take on the responsibilities full time. The good thing is that in a small sample, he displayed all the attributes that team management had hoped they picked up.
As the Raiders prepare for a difficult stretch of games, they’re hoping Kwiatkoski can begin his return, coming back versus the Buffalo Bills would be ideal. Head coach Jon Gruden says there’s a chance Kwiatkoski play on Sunday. However, it’s not a sure thing as Anthony Galaviz of The Fresno Bee recently tweeted.
Still remains to be seen if Nick Kwiatkoski plays on Sunday but Paul Guenther said he “picked up on our system. He’s a vocal leader. Very stout run defender. I’m looking forward to getting him back.” #Raiders
— Anthony Galaviz (@agalaviz_TheBee) October 1, 2020
What Are The Raiders Missing Without Kwiatkoski?
Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has said that Kwiatkoski is an excellent leader and is missed in both facets of the defensive game. As Carlos Sanchez of the Raider Ramble recently Tweeted, shedding light on the fact that Guenther acknowledges Kwiatkoski has already picked up his system.
#Raiders DC Paul Guenther describes LB Nick Kwiatkoski as a good communicator. He says Kwaitkoski has picked up the system and it feels like he’s been there for years.
Guenther also mentions that Kwiatkoski is a vocal leader and an asset in both the running and passing game.
— Carlos Sánchez (@HaeruHariken) October 1, 2020
Kwiatkoski has only played in 22 total snaps for the 2020 Raiders per Pro Football Focus. Yet, he impressed in those snaps and his total grade is 69.5 overall. More importantly, in his 12 coverage snaps, Kwiatkoski scored a 75.9 grade. In addition to this, the linebacker saw 55.4 grade for his run defense. Along with good coverage skills, we have yet to see him take part in the pass rush. In 2019 with the Chicago Bears, Kwiatkoski blitzed the quarterback a total of 22 times, notching three sacks. If the Raiders can get their defensive leader back sooner than later, the unit might able to start turning it around.
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*Top Photo: Las Vegas Raiders Official YouTube Channel