It’s finally here! It is Week 1 of the NFL season, and the revamped Las Vegas Raiders defense has quite a test in front of them. However, this is also an opportunity.
With a good showing, the Raiders can open some eyes and shut some mouths as the perception of this team (according to national media) is not great. Nonetheless, the Raiders believe otherwise.
The matchups in this game are intriguing, to say the least. Lamar Jackson being one of the premier playmakers in the league will be no easy task for this retooled defense. A defense led by Gus Bradley, that charged into Baltimore, in the playoffs, and dominated for all but the final seven minutes. Two former Chargers from that game will be on the Silver and Black’s sideline, playing an important role. And, it is great to say, that the Raiders defense will be ready to play.
Gus Bradley vs Lamar Jackson
When Bradley brought his Charger defense to Baltimore in 2019, Jackson was held to 14 completions totaling 194 yards with two touchdowns. He was sacked seven times by the Chargers’ defense and was slowed down in the run game, he only accumulated 54 rushing yards.
In that game, Bradley implemented seven defensive backs to smother Jackson’s scramble ability. Seven. The combination of speed and understanding the passing ability led the Chargers to a Wild Card victory. Lamar has obviously matured since his rookie season. Be that as it may, the Raiders defense under Bradley’s hand can stand their ground.
Casey Hayward Jr. vs Marquise Brown
Casey played in that Wild Card game against the Ravens, and he was not too shabby. Along with the other six defensive backs switching in and out during that game, there was enough love to go around. However, this Raiders defense is young and inexperienced in this scheme. The leadership of Hayward in the back of that defense, as a voice for Bradley, will be needed. And he can make sure that voice is heard, by locking down “Hollywood.” The Ravens will need to throw the ball, as their running game has been depleted by injury. Locking down the wide receivers, by both corners, will ensure a victory that both Bradley and fans want.
The hot topic (that isn’t named Derek Carr) for years has been the defense. But, as many seem to agree, this defense has talent. It now has somebody that can lead them in the right direction. A solid showing this Monday night, and the Raiders hype train might be back on the tracks. And if the defense is helping that train along, as opposed to holding it back, Raider Nation should have a lot to be excited about.
*Top Photo: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun