The Las Vegas Raiders’ defense has been a sight for sore eyes for over a decade. Finally, in 2022, new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham took over the reins of the much-maligned unit. While he has had success in the N.Y. Giants’ football organization at the same position, it is yet to be seen whether or not he can duplicate that success. Granted, it has only been one season, but for a coach who held opposing offenses to 20 points or less in 15 games throughout two seasons, some wonder if the magic is still there.
Don't have to. They don't. https://t.co/hZ0nZEC3kS
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) January 9, 2023
‘The Black Picasso’ had his work cut out for him this year, and it’s time to look at the entire body of work.
The Defense Produced a Mixed Bag of Results
The Raiders’ defense had four outings where the team allowed 30 or more points a game. However, the unit did hold opposing offenses to under 20 points a game in six contests. For reference, the league median average for the 2022 season in the points per game allowed category was 21.8 by Graham’s former team, the Giants. Additionally, the team had five contests where they allowed more than 20 but less than 25 points per game. Ultimately, it leaves the defense on the hook for giving up 25 or more points a game six times. When the league’s top 10 offenses are all scoring 24 or more points per game, it makes the Raider defense not look as bad (sometimes) as some make it out to be, and that is not considering the personnel or lack thereof of talent.
The Raiders Defense Was Never in a Position to Thrive in 2022
While many quickly label Patrick Graham as the scapegoat for the defensive problems, they started well before he arrived. Aside from Maxx Crosby and Denzel Perryman, the defense has been a turnstile of reliable quality starters in recent years. Additionally, the organization allocated most of the salary cap to the other side of the football.
The offense was supposed to carry head coach Josh McDaniels’ team in his first year. However, particular culprits thwarted that plan and placed more pressure on a defense that was never expected to be above average. Graham is a talented coach but needs more than two talented players, like any coach, to be fairly judged. Criticism is justified, but context is equally essential for a coach in his first year with the Raiders.
*Top Photo by Getty Images