The Las Vegas Raiders added talent to the defensive side of the ball but was it enough for first-year defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
Last season, the Las Vegas Raiders struggled mightily on the defensive side of the ball, finishing in the bottom-5 in the NFL in many statistical categories. Between lapses in judgment in the secondary, failure to get a push in the pass rush, and terrible tackling, the defense could not get off the field consistently.
This offseason, Las Vegas has made it a point to get better on defense, using five draft picks and signing key players via free agency. The hope is that the Raiders now have enough to at least be decent on defense, and by bringing in a new defensive coordinator, there is also the hope that a new scheme can get the returning players pointed in the right direction.
In fact, there is also the belief that Bradley was the most important addition to the franchise this offseason, especially with how bad Paul Guenther was in the role. However, for him to win, he has to have the talent he needs to run his scheme, and the question is whether or not the Raiders did enough on that side of the ball.
Raiders added to all three levels of the defense
Upfront, the Raiders certainly got better, specifically in the pass rush, adding Yannick Ngakoue via free agency, and Malcolm Koonce in the NFL Draft. The same trio returns at linebacker, and it is my belief that Cory Littleton is going to thrive in Bradley’s system, as he and Guenther did not gel at all last season.
The secondary is where the real trouble lies, as they are either going to be a very good group, or the young players will struggle once again. The dependence on Johnathan Abram and Damon Arnette could yield excellent results, but if they play the way they did in 2020, it could be another long season for the Raiders.
However, Karl Joseph returns, and Trevon Moehrig could be a star, and with the signing of Casey Hayward, there is at least one player Bradley can start opposite Trayvon Mullen at cornerback.
Yannick Ngakoue has said all the right things since being signed by the Las Vegas Raiders, and Raider Nation should be as excited as he is that he is here.
As we saw last season, the Raiders cannot rely on just one side of the ball excelling while the other was one of the worst in football. The offense should be able to put up points once again, but if the defense finishes in the bottom of the league again, it will be another year watching the playoffs from home.