Las Vegas Raiders: Studs and Duds from Week 1 vs. Ravens
4. Gus Bradley and the Defense
Last season, the Raiders defense was historically bad as it continuously let down the offense week after week. Jon Gruden brought in his old buddy Gus Bradley and asked him to deliver at the very least a league-average defensive unit. The early returns are promising as we saw the Raiders defense force multiple turnovers and harass Lamar Jackson all night long
Most impressive perhaps were the contributions from the new guys that Bradley chose to bring in. Quinton Jefferson forced a fumble, KJ Wright made a crucial fourth-down stop, Casey Hayward held up well in coverage, Denzel Perryman recovered a fumble, and Darius Philon was crucial on the interior defensive line.
These guys were all brought in because of their familiarity with Bradley’s scheme and that paid dividends right away.
It wasn’t all perfect as there were a few lapses in coverage that lead to big plays and some poor run defending but that seemed to be more due to individual mistakes and the excellent play of Lamar Jackson. The unit seemed prepared for everything Baltimore could throw at them and were it not for Jackson’s incredible talent this game would not have been so close.
The most encouraging thing was that the defense looked faster than ever and the defensive line, once a weakness of the team, looks to be a strength with a deep rotation. This was even without Clelin Ferrell who is much maligned but actually played well when healthy in 2020. If the Raider defense continues to play like they did in Week 1 then things are truly looking up in 2021.