The Las Vegas Raiders had to throw out a poorly patched-up defensive line against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Are Covid-19 complications to be blamed or is there a legitimate cause for concern?
The Silver and Black were poised for a big game against the Super Bowl champions. After all, they did defeat them earlier this season, but they had to go short-handed because the pandemic decimated their preparation. In particular, they had prepared for most of the week without several defensive key players.
As far as the defensive line, the unit lost sophomore Clelin Ferrell, a huge loss considering the level of pressure he was bringing. The Raiders were also without defensive linemen Johnathan Hankins, Maliek Collins, and Kendall Vickers due to the Covid list. If that wasn’t enough, Maurice Hurst missed Sunday’s game, his third in a row. The game went on though and the Raiders still had to take the field. Unfortunately for them, it was against arguably the NFL’s best quarterback.
How Did The Raiders Defensive Line End Up Doing?
As far as sacks go, the Raiders got close, specially Maxx Crosby, but in the end, they couldn’t finish the job. By the end, Patrick Mahomes had thrown for 348 yards and two touchdowns. While Covid certainly played a part, the recurring struggles on defense continue thanks to defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. After a back and forth clash, it was up to the defense to win the day for Las Vegas all the way up until the closing moments. Head coach Jon Gruden elaborated on the lack of a pass rush in what turned out to be a deciding moment.
“We didn’t have a rush. We had a stunt and they wadded the stunt up and Mahomes bought some time and he got us on a second reaction play, he and Kelce. It was a combination of him buying time and our stunt not getting home.”
As a collective unit, there were no sacks but the defensive line had three hits on Mahomes. There were also three tackles for a loss between Crosby, Vickers, and Arden Key. This just won’t simply be enough against the NFL’s elite teams in 2020. At some point, the Raiders will need a reliable and consistent pass rush.
The real question is whether Guenther can make this happen before the playoffs commence, assuming the Raiders make it. So far, the defensive coordinator hasn’t been up to the task. What are your thoughts, Raider Nation? Can the Silver and Black put a consistent pass rush together in time for the playoffs?
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*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images