The Las Vegas Raiders took to free agency this offseason to add some firepower to their starting unit, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. With general manager Dave Ziegler hard at work in the open market, cornerback Marcus Peters, safety Marcus Epps and linebacker Robert Spillane were welcomed to Sin City. There was one other defensive player who signed a deal with the Silver and Black this summer, who has already become a staple to the defense – defensive tackle John Jenkins.
Jenkins joined the Raiders on a one-year, $1.3 million deal. Being 34 years old, most of Raider Nation didn’t give this signing the time of day. Six weeks into the season, the veteran DT is proving his deal was quite the bargain.
Despite his age, Jenkins has been the best defensive tackle on Las Vegas’ roster this year, and it isn’t particularly close.
From his defensive tackle position, the 11-year vet leads the team in pressures (7), pressure rate (4.8%), win percentage against opposing blockers (11.9%), passes batted down at the line of scrimmage (1), and pass rushing grade (75.3) which ranks 21st-highest among all DTs across the NFL.
Currently, Jenkins has earned a pass-rush grade north of 69.5 in back-to-back-to-back weeks. The first-year Raiders defender has achieved this feat four times this season; the only other defensive tackle on the roster to hit that mark in any week was Adam Butler in Week 4 (71.2).
You’ve asked for interior pressure, Raider Nation, and John Jenkins is delivering.
Raiders’ defensive tackle unit shines in latest win
Jenkins is getting it done – on Sunday, so was everyone else at his position.
Against the New England Patriots, three defensive tackles earned a sack on three separate plays. Adam Butler got the first of the day, and later, Jenkins joined him courtesy of Tyler Hall forcing Mac Jones his way. On the final (defensive) play of the game, Bilal Nichols took Jones down in the end zone for a safety.
Altogether, the Raiders’ interior unit totaled seven pressures with three players beating their blockers at least 10% of the time. When it came to finishing plays, not one player at the position missed a tackle.
There’s still a ways to go up front defensively, but Week 6’s performance was promising. The big question is, can this unit build on their impressive outing last Sunday?
*Top Photo: John Locher | AP Photo