As previously mentioned, the Raiders’ defense has struggled mightily the last couple of seasons. A big reason why has been the play of their secondary. Per Football Outsiders, two years ago the Silver and Black ranked dead last in pass defense DVOA and 30th last year. Quite simply, if the team is going to get more stops, the cornerbacks and safeties need to step their game up.
Of course, defensive backs coach Jim O’Neil isn’t to blame for the horrendous 2018 campaign, as Derrick Ansley was in charge of the group back then. However, finishing second from the bottom in 2019 is far from “good.”
Beyond the rankings or stat sheet, O’Neil needs to prove himself as a talent developer. He deserves a ton of credit for Trayvon Mullen’s emergence last season, however, the coach has a lot more on his plate heading into 2020.
Las Vegas’s secondary will be extremely young this season. Assuming the team keeps ten defensive backs on the 53-man roster again, half of them will be first- or second-year players. It’s unrealistic to expect O’Neil to have a 100 percent success rate this year, but if he can turn three out of the five young bucks into serviceable contributors, he’ll gain some notoriety in the league.