‘Let Them Play Defense’ Says Raiders Legend On New Players

The Las Vegas Raiders decided that they had seen enough from their defense; a major renovation was in order. One legend says that’s great but the coaching staff needs to do more. 

For the past three years, the Raiders’ defense has been tough to watch, whether it be for fans or former players. Under Paul Guenther, the unit was hounded by a plethora of issues including a lack of aggressiveness. Former linebacker and Super Bowl champion Phil Villapiano had a better word to describe the defense: soft. Whether it was the inability to generate sacks or getting chewed up through the air, Villapiano’s assessment is fair.

“And then when they tried to stop somebody, they couldn’t because they’re so used to just giving up yards. … I could hardly watch.”

A lot of what Villapiano pointed out recently via the Vegas Nation Podcast speaks volumes about Guenther. Quite simply, the former defensive coordinator had players play out of position, and at times, it seemed like the unit had given up. Seeing this mess along with cornerbacks getting burned on plays and the defensive line getting run through became the norm for Raider Nation. Villapiano much like the fans, had seen enough, so while he’s happy to see moves made, he knows it will take more than personnel changes.

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What do the Raiders need to do?

This question has many answers to it but much of it will come down to execution. New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was brought in to rectify several issues, execution among them. He has a proven track record in previous stops with the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Chargers, so that’s a start. After coaching, it will fall on the players to do their part as Villapiano alluded to.

“(Clelin Ferrell) has got to improve. And I’ll take (Maxx) Crosby. Effort is effort. Anytime these guys that get drafted No. 1, you have to play like a No. 1.”

As we all know, a lot of the unit’s success will fall on the shoulders of Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby. In fact, Villapiano believes if you’re drafted as a top player, the favor should be returned. Again, this too is also easier said than done but clearly, Ferrell will be looked upon to have a monster year. It will be interesting to see how the defense comes together in camp under Bradley but Villapiano made solid points.

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*Top Photo: The San Francisco Chronicle/Vincent Maggiora

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