After one of the worst seasons on defense in Las Vegas Raiders history, could their defensive line already have reinforcements for 2021?
The 2020 season is one the Raiders probably wish to put in their rearview mirror as soon as possible. The first order of business more than likely will be to name a new defensive coordinator. However, head coach Jon Gruden could opt to bring back Rod Marinelli who’s coaching on an interim basis right now.
Considering Gruden’s history of keeping his coaching circle to friends, it shouldn’t surprise us if Marinelli’s named Paul Guenther’s permanent replacement. Either way, the defensive line needs help if the Silver and Black hope to improve on defense.
The inability to generate sacks and not being able to stop opposing quarterbacks haunted this Las Vegas team in 2020. The Raiders’ brass headed by Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock currently have an interesting dilemma on their hands. Yes, they could invest draft capital towards an EDGE defender or a defensive tackle. The draft is one route to improve but what if the Raiders simply stayed put and rolled with what they have in-house?
The Raiders could already have the answer…
It’s plausible that much of the defensive struggles fall on Guenther’s inability to maximize the talent he had. Maybe Marinelli can make something happen next year with the players already on the roster. Vic Beasley, Takk McKinley, and David Irving all joined the Silver and Black throughout the course of the season. Regrettably, none had an impact due to injuries mostly.
All three have potential though, two are former first-round picks, and one had seven sacks one season nearly three years ago. We all know Gruden loves his veterans and the Raiders are known for turning around the careers of those deemed ‘finished.’ Irving’s 2017 season is the reason he should get a shot next year, he also played that year under Marinelli in Dallas. 10 hits, nine tackles for a loss, six passes defensed, and a forced fumble show Irving’s ceiling. Had he just generated half of that this year, it would’ve been better than what the team paid for in Carl Nassib.
Beasley’s 2019 season with the Atlanta Falcons is statistically better than most of the current Raiders along the defensive line. That season, Beasley compiled eight tackles for a loss, eight sacks, and 12 hits in all. McKinley showed promise during his first three years in the NFL. In that span, McKinley collected 17.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 22 tackles for a loss, and 45 hits.
While maybe not the ‘sexy’ scenario that Raider Nation prefers, it might benefit the Raiders in 2021 to roll with all three. The possibility exists that Marinelli or whoever comes in could make something of this defensive line with its current parts.
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*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Raiders