Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels noted that his run defense is making progress following his team’s victory yesterday.
The defense as a whole has ambitious expectations for this season. For so long, they’ve been the Raiders’ Achilles heel, but that’s expected to change. The old adage is that it begins in the trenches, and that holds true for this unit. The Raiders will need to consistently stop the run, so luckily for them, their current personnel along the defensive line will allow them to do so. Earlier this week, fans were jubilant at the news that both Johnathan Hankins and Bilal Nichols had returned to practice.
Going into Saturday’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins, people were eager to see how much of a difference the duo would make. Prior to their return, the Raiders’ defensive tackles were struggling in the preseason. So much so that many wondered if reinforcements were needed. Following the action in Miami, McDaniels elaborated a bit on the run defense aspect when speaking to the media earlier today.
So, what did Josh McDaniels say about the Las Vegas Raiders’ run defense?
“I think we saw some progress. But for the most part, I thought we were we were trying hard to do some things better in the run defense, our fits, our force, our tackling. I thought we had some good tackles, and then we had some things where we can probably do them better. We’ve tried to identify what it is we’re trying to fix and improve on each week. Hopefully, the communication is clear, so that they understand what those things are. And I thought a few of those things showed up in the game last night.”
Do the Raiders need more from their run defense?
McDaniels pointed out that things are being worked on every week. We have to keep in mind that both Hankins and Nichols have been absent for most of camp, and they literally just returned. It will take a little bit to get everything down pat. However, Hankins and Nichols are absolute beasts in run defense. That hasn’t changed judging from their physical play yesterday. Five tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a sack also headlined an impressive game from Tashawn Bower.
Perhaps the rotation is finally coming together with rookies Matthew Butler and Neil Farrell, both of whom are maybe not quite ready yet. In a game where several concerns were raised, stopping the run wasn’t one of them. As a whole, Las Vegas only surrendered 37 yards on the ground. McDaniels’ aggressive gameplan worked to perfection. As far as Farrell and Butler, it isn’t to say they won’t be successful. Rather, if the Raiders are serious about excelling in run defense, you’ll have to go with what’s proven to work (Hankins and Nichols). While Bower is acquainted with McDaniels from their time together with the New England Patriots, so there’s that.
*Top Photo: Official Raiders Website