During the Oakland Raiders second preseason game, the defense applied pressure on opposing quarterbacks early and often. Will Paul Guenther’s defense be asked to blitz more frequently moving forward?
During the offseason, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was awarded some shiny new toys after free-agency and the draft concluded. Oakland’s defense heading into 2019 has added an abundance of speed with the additions of Lamarcus Joyner, Trayvon Mullen, and Jonathan Abram rounding out the new-look defense.
Throughout the Raiders and Arizona Cardinals preseason Week 2 showdown, Oakland’s defense looked significantly improved from one year ago. Guenther had his defense bringing the house, blitzing often, generating pressure in the face of 2019 No. 1 overall selection, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray.
Joyner and Abram lined up all over the field, and were key pieces in shooting the gap to stuff the run. Joyner also recorded a sack, using his versatility and speed to inch his way into the backfield.
"“Those were some plays that we’ll run during season,” Paul Guenther told reporters on Sunday. “If you noticed some of the guys that were blitzing, it was Joyner, Abram, Marshall and Burfict, all new toys for me. Those were the guys I wanted to see blitz a bit, instead of sit back in coverage all day. I want to see those guys have to communicate and do different things instead of just playing one or two coverages.”"
The Raiders defense is still very much a question mark heading into the regular season, but throughout the preseason, the first-team defense has many things to be optimistic about. General manager Mike Mayock brought in talent on all three levels of the defense, improving the defensive line, adding quality veteran linebackers, and bringing in speed in the secondary.
With the defensive line still being one of the younger groups in the NFL, look for Guenther to be more aggressive in 2019, calling more blitz packages to get pressure into the backfield. They can’t afford to go another season with almost zero pass rush, so Guenther might be forced to use some additional linebackers and safeties for extra help.