It’s hard to name a better duo than the Las Vegas Raiders and an inability to play coverage. Since 2015, the Silver and Black have finished top-10 in passing yards allowed in all but two seasons, and this year is no exception. Not only are the Raiders currently allowing the fourth-most passing yards in the leagueâ€”the team’s highest ranking since 2004 if the season ended todayâ€”but Las Vegas is also surrendering the highest completion percentage league-wide (69.7%).
With numbers like these, there’s no reason for opposing coaches to fear Patrick Graham‘s coverage scheme. Even still, one player has shined brightly throughout the entire season; Duron Harmon, who first-year general manager Dave Ziegler signed during the offseason.
Duron Harmon is excelling despite the team’s struggles in coverage
Harmon signed a one-year deal with the Raiders back in March following an underwhelming 2021 campaign with the Atlanta Falcons. Now 15 weeks into the season, not only has the 31-year-old proved he still has something in the tank, but he’s been the best defensive player Las Vegas added to their roster this offseason.
Harmon’s 82.4 coverage grade via Pro Football Focus ranks third in the league among safeties with at least 100 coverage snaps, and the 69.9 opposing quarterback rating he’s responsible for is tied with All-Pro Tyrann Mathieu for 18th-lowest under the same stipulations. The former Patriot’s 37 tackles on passing plays ranks seventh-highest among safeties, missing only 7% of his tackles.
The 10-year pro leads all Raiders in pass breakups (5), interceptions (2) and defensive touchdowns (1), while being second to only Maxx Crosby in forced fumbles (2). During the Silver and Black’s most recent contest, Harmon intercepted Rams’ quarterback Baker Mayfield in the final seconds to personally seal the deal. The turnover was unfortunately negated due to a defensive pass interference call on Amik Robertson. As Raiders fan recall, Los Angeles then walked away as winners despite Harmon’s efforts.
It’s impossible to argue against Crosby being Las Vegas’ best defensive player this season. Even so, Harmon is sitting pretty as the second-best. This may be a surprise to Raider Nation, but it was expected all along; after all, he wasn’t voted a team captain by his peers for no reason.
Harmon will face a familiar foe on Sunday
Future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick knows Duron Harmon’s game like the back of his hand. After all, Belichick did select Harmon in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The Rutgers alum was with the Patriots for seven years, helping New England win three Super Bowls.
Last season, as a member of the Falcons, Harmon squared off against Belichick for the first time in his career. New England showed him no mercy, cruising to a 25-0 win over Atlanta. Now with the Raiders, the veteran defensive back will be looking to even the score.
If Harmon and company end the night with a win, Las Vegas will be 6-8. Up next would be back-to-back rookie quarterbacks in Brock Purdy and Kenny Pickett. With Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow both returning, another winning streak may be on the horizon. In the meantime, the upcoming contest against New England is all that matters.
*Top Photo: Jeffery Bennett/Las Vegas Raiders