It was a season where the defense cost the Las Vegas Raiders several games. Obviously, they were going to need substantial improvement to make any noise in 2021. These improvements came quickly and often once last season concluded. While the team’s brass has made a lot of moves, these three will be the most impactful.
Let’s take a look at these three defensive moves by the Raiders…
Raiders hiring Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator
First and foremost, the Raiders’ defense badly needed new leadership. While they surely lacked talent at times, former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther struggled to deploy his players adequately. In Gus Bradley, the Raiders have a coordinator with a history of putting players in their best spots. Bringing the famed Seattle Cover 3 defense to Las Vegas has been tried before under Ken Norton Jr. but fans will hope it fares better this time around.
Securing Casey Hayward and Yannick Ngakoue
With weaknesses everywhere on defense, the Raiders could not go wrong adding at any position. As expected, Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden went after players familiar with Bradley’s scheme. In Ngakoue, the Raiders will have their best true pass rusher since Khalil Mack. Coming off of an eight-sack season in 2020, he will look to return to double digits in that area this year.
Hayward, a post-draft addition, will give the team a much-needed veteran presence at corner. Youngsters Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette should benefit most from his experience in Bradley’s system. Hayward also offers versatility as he has played both the boundary and the slot in his career.
Moving up to draft Trevon Moehrig
With the biggest need on the Raiders’ defense being safety, Mayock and Gruden were able to nab the draft’s best in the second round. Trevon Moehrig instantly slots in as the Raiders starting safety and gives the defense a playmaker on the back end that it hasn’t had since Charles Woodson. While there will be a learning curve, TCU head coach Gary Patterson always coaches his players up well and you can expect him to contribute right away. This selection, coupled with many others at the position, gives them great depth at safety and reliable special teams players.
For the first time in a long time, it’s easy to be excited about the Raiders’ defense. Will they be a formidable group like the ’85 Bears or ’00 Ravens? Certainly not, but they do have talented young players at almost every level. The development of these players in Bradley’s scheme will be crucial to how the Raiders season goes.
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*Top Photo: Associated Press/Matt Patterson