The Las Vegas Raiders spent good money on their defense this offseason, and MaxxCrosby has high praise for his teammates heading into 2020.
If the 2020 Las Vegas Raiders are going to take a step forward and make a serious run at the playoffs they will need their revamped defense to play better than it has in recent years.
Upgrading the defense was a top priority this offseason for general manager Mike Mayock, and he made some solid moves in free agency. All three levels of the defense were upgraded, including defensive lineman Maliek Collins and Carl Nassib, linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, and in the secondary Prince Amukamara and Damarious Randall.
In addition, a trio of rookies were also added through the draft, highlighted by first round selection, cornerback Damon Arnette. Pads came on for the first time on Monday, but so far, Arnette has been getting rave reviews for his performance.
You can’t talk about offseason additions without mentioning the change that was made on the coaching staff with the hire of new defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli.
Thus far in camp the defense appears to be faster, more athletic, and have more depth along the line and in the secondary. Because of this, understandably, the expectations for the unit are high not only among fans but players and coaches feel it too.
“You know, a lot of times the last couple of years,” said Paul Guenther about the lack of personnel on defense in recent years. “To be honest with you, you look down on your call sheet and say, oh I can’t put this guy in that situation, and you gotta pick and choose your spots during games. But I think with the young guys that we have, the speed that we have, the first thing I notice is we are much faster on defense.”
Guenther might be the happiest man in the new Raiders headquarters in Henderson because for the first time since joining the Raiders he has the pieces he needs to run his scheme effectively.
On Monday, second year defensive end Maxx Crosby met with members of the media and made no qualms about it, he and his teammates expect the defense to turn the corner at all three levels.
High praise from Madd Maxx
“For sure, that’s the goal,” said Crosby about the defense showing improvements at all three levels. “The defense isn’t going to be good if we are lacking at one of those levels. You have to give a huge shout out to Mayock and Gruden for getting these guys in our building. Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski literally every level, Damarious Randall, Carl Nassib, and Maliek Collins. These guys are trying to help this defense get better.”
Getting better shouldn’t be too difficult for a unit that ranked 24th in points allowed at 26.2 points per game. Another area where the defense must show signs of improvements is creating takeaways. In 2019, the Raiders defense generated only 15 turnovers, ranking them 31st in the league.
Ferrell returned for year two looking like a new man, adding 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason. So far it sounds like added weight is paying dividends.
And for Abram…
The early reviews out of camp are positive when it comes to the defense, which is a good sign for the Raiders hopes of making the playoffs.
“You can see it on the field,” said Crosby. “We look more dynamic, we look more hungry. We have guys that want to beat the hell out of people and I love that. I think we are going to open some eyes for sure.”