Although the Las Vegas Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5, they still need to work on some areas. Their offense is running on all cylinders but their defense is a different story. They were able to stop the Chiefs offense in the second half but ended up allowing 32 points in the game. One unit that could get some help is their defensive line, defensive end David Irving can provide it.
State of the Raiders defensive line
The Raiders front-four isn’t atrocious, but it isn’t a juggernaut either. Defensive end Clelin Ferell had one of the best games of his career while teammate Maxx Crosby has registered four sacks in 2020. Moreover, Kendal Vickers and Chris Smith were key in the defensive line rotation at Arrowhead Stadium.
Nevertheless, there’s a reason why the Raiders rank 27th in points allowed. All areas on defense need improvement, it isn’t just one or another, but their defensive line isn’t generating enough pressure up front. Before he injured his shoulder, defensive tackle Maliek Collins was a non-factor. The same is true for defensive end Carl Nassib who hasn’t had the impact the team envisioned when they gave him a three-year $30 million deal in free agency. To make matters worse, he suffered a broken toe in Week 5 and is out for an indefinite amount of time.
Here comes David Irving, but maybe not right away
We know the Raiders defensive line needs to increase their production, and in order to achieve that end goal, they signed David Irving. We are also aware that injuries and suspensions have derailed his career and that he hasn’t played since 2018. Nevertheless, he’s shown he can play. Back in 2017, he registered seven sacks in eight games, and even if he wasn’t taking opposing quarterbacks down, he was generating pressure at the line of scrimmage.
Having said that, we don’t know when Irving will join the Raiders defensive line rotation. He’s currently on the practice squad and he started the league’s COVID-19 testing protocol on Saturday. The Iowa State product needs to wait six days before he can partake in team activities at the Henderson headquarters. For that reason, he won’t play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
However, it won’t be too long before the team decides to promote him to the active roster. The team still needs someone to take Nassib’s place and Irving could be part of the defensive line rotation. Moreover, he wouldn’t be the only one joining the defensive line.
The Raiders activated defensive tackle Maurice Hurst from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. Before he was placed on the list, he was very productive and Collins should also be back soon. The Silver and Black have plenty of work ahead of Week 7, but they also have potential. While we shouldn’t have high expectations for Irving, he could provide the Raiders pass-rush a boost down the road.
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Top Photo: Brandon Wade/Associated Press