Winning cures everything or at least it masks a team’s shortcoming. This is true for the Las Vegas Raiders and their defense, which played a part in beating the Kansas City Chiefs. Although the unit made a stand in the second half in Week 5, it still allowed 32 points, close to their year average.
Don’t let the Raiders win against the Chiefs skew the data
Winning is everything in the NFL and even though many players prize individual achievements, most will likely take victory over individual accomplishments. The Raiders currently hold a 3-2 record, but it has had little to do with how their defense has performed. In fact, the group has regressed this year despite their offseason additions.
The Raiders defense currently ranks 24th in yards allowed and is 27th in points. The unit is surrounding 30.4 points per game and has given up less than 30 points in a game just once. Moreover, their run defense is dead last in the NFL and have allowed 11 rushing touchdowns.
Advanced statistics also agree with traditional ones. Pro Football Focus graded the Raiders defense 27th in the league. Even though they highlight the work of linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski and defensive end Clelin Ferrell, they can’t find many positives in the unit overall.
Players are underperforming
Again, winning is the sport’s ultimate goal, but it doesn’t mean the Raiders can just ignore their problems on defense. Defensive end Maxx Crosby is arguably their best defender but he can’t do it all. The team hoped free-agent defensive end Carl Nassib was going to play a big role in their defensive line rotation. Instead, he’s out for an indefinite amount of time with a broken toe and hardly had any impact before the injury. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins was out against the Chiefs and the defense seemed like they played better without him.
The Raiders secondary isn’t faring any better than their front four. Safety Erik Harris has struggled this year and so was cornerback Damon Arnette before he hurt his thumb. Sophomore Trayvon Mullen has been the best of the bunch. However, the team simply doesn’t have enough playmakers in their back seven other than Mullen and Kwiatkoski. Before safety Jeff Heath’s interception in Week 5, the defense had forced two in the previous four games.
What can the Silver and Black do?
Although the lack of production on defense hasn’t come back to haunt the Raiders, the team’s brass should be concerned. Maybe defensive coordinator Paul Guenther should experiment with his scheme and mix things up. They could also give more playing time to defensive end Kendal Vickers and Datone Jones. Less likely, they could also trade for players such as Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap.
The Raiders have time in their favor. They won’t play this Sunday so they have time to take a step back and look at the steps needed to fix their defense. Also, Collins and Arnette will have time to heal due to the extended rest. After all, it’s not too late to turn things around and if the Silver and Black defense can complement their high-scoring offense, opposing teams will be in trouble for the remainder of the 2020 season.
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Top Photo: L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal