The Las Vegas Raiders have hired former Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to the same position. The hire is a positive step towards fixing a sub par defensive unit.
Bradley’s hiring has garnered positive reviews. However, the Raiders’ defense is in need of a lot more than that. It needs a large influx of talent to a roster that lacks both high-end talent and depth. Luckily for Las Vegas, Bradley has collected experience in recent years giving him connections to many talented defensive players.
Most of these players would not be big-time additions though. Rather, they would be veterans that can help teach young guys the ropes and provide depth. Here are a few the Raiders could look to add.
Bradley is from the Seattle Seahawks coaching tree, which predominantly employs 4-3 defenses in a Cover 3 shell. In order to make this happen successfully, the Raiders will need to be able to consistently get pressure with just four down lineman. One of Bradley’s best pass rushers from his time in Los Angeles could help.
Coming off a rough year, Melvin Ingram had zero sacks in 2020. Nevertheless, this is not indicative of his play as he is one of the more consistent sack producers in the NFL. The veteran has logged 49 sacks throughout his eight-year career. He could be a solid pass rushing presence across from Maxx Crosby and at the very least, on occasion, rush the passer.
Seahawks LB K.J. Wright has long been a steady and reliable contributor. It was Bradley who was his first defensive coordinator and made him a starter in his rookie year. On the Raiders, the linebacker would add to a linebacker group that annually needs all the help it can get. The Raiders may not re-sign Nicholas Morrow. That would make the linebacker position an even bigger weakness and give Wright the ability to become a starter. This reunion makes too much sense.
— Clint Lamb (@ClintRLamb) August 25, 2018
A Couple of Former Legion of Boom Members
The Seahawks legendary Legion of Boom defense propelled them to back to back Super Bowl appearances, and helped give the franchise its only Lombardi. Bradley was not with Seattle for these Super Bowl runs, as he had already become the Jaguars head coach. However, he played a role on helping build that stout defense. Two members of this legendary team will be hitting free agency in 2021.
For Richard Sherman, he will be entering his eleventh season in the NFL. After an injury-riddled season in 2020, he will be testing free agency for the second time in his career. Sherman’s resumÃ© speaks for itself. He has played in three Super Bowls (winning one), been a five time First Team All-Pro and one of the NFL’s most prolific ball hawks with 36 interceptions in his career.
Now 32 years, Sherman is reaching the end of the line. He could look for a switch to safety to prolong his career. However, the Raiders could not ask for a much better teacher then the future Hall of Famer.
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) October 8, 2019
What about Earl Thomas?
The other member is the lately maligned Earl Thomas. Towards the end of his legendary tenure with Seattle, the safety had many disputes with management, prompting him to leave the organization and head to the Baltimore Ravens. There, he again shined as the premier center field safety in the entire league.
Heading into his second year with the Ravens, Thomas punched a teammate in practice. He was promptly released, adding to his reputation as an ‘uncoachable‘ player and an overall loose cannon. On the field however, he is an elite player making three First Team All-Pro teams and seven of the last ten Pro Bowls.
While Thomas would be a perfect fit for the Raiders in terms of the style of player they want at one of their biggest positions of need, it’s hard to imagine the Raiders taking a chance on a player with these off the field questions so recently after the Antonio Brown debacle.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 8, 2019
The Raiders could poach some talent from a division rival
The arch-rival Chargers have consistently put out talent on the defensive side of the ball. Their problem has been staying healthy. Two of these players will be hitting free agency this off-season. The first one is 26-year old safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who has long been a reliable backup. Jenkins is only four years into his NFL career but has recorded five interceptions in a limited role. In Las Vegas, he would have scheme familiarity and could fill a hole on a Raiders defense either as a starter or depth piece.
— PFF (@PFF) November 19, 2019
The second being Jenkins former teammate in college at the University of Miami, linebacker Denzel Perryman. He is a prototypical two down, run stopping linebacker who could be a valuable asset if the Raiders choose not to bring back Raekwon McMillan. As was evident all season, Jon Gruden’s team can not stop the run so anyone who specializes in this aspect should be high on the team’s priority list. The hope for Perryman is that he can stay healthy as he has only played 69 games over his six year career and never finished a full season.
The Raiders can quickly turn things around on defense
While the Raiders will not sign everyone of these players and they likely would not be big time contributors, they would all represent a new type of Raiders defense and help fill the leadership void on that side of the ball. The Silver and Black’s number one priority this off-season should be to rid themselves of all memories pertaining to Paul Guenther and last year’s defense by adding veterans who know how to win and are familiar with the new scheme is a good first step.
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Top Photo: Rick Scuteri/Associated Press