Will the 2021 Raiders be better than the 2016 Raiders?
Looking at the defense
The thing that made the Raiders so special in 2016 was their defense was able to get off the field. The team lacked top-level talent outside of Khalil Mack, but he was their only real playmaker. The defense was also very opportune and forced a lot of turnovers in critical times.
However, the defense gave up a lot of points and a lot of yards and often had to be bailed out by the offense. The secondary and linebacking corps were embarrassing, and the defense’s only positive was the defensive line.
The Raiders were constantly running out an old Reggie Nelson at safety and subpar players at most positions.
On the other hand, the 2021 Raiders have the talent to be very special. Through two games, Las Vegas has one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue have proved to be an elite tandem on the edge, while Quinton Jefferson and Darius Philon have been menacing inside.
Johnathan Hankins and Carl Nassib also look much improved, and Solomon Thomas and Clelin Ferrell provide solid depth.
The difference is the linebacking corps. The 2021 linebackers look like a strength, despite missing Mike linebacker Nicholas Morrow. Cory Littleton, K.J. Wright, and Denzyl Perryman have played better than expected, and actually, look competent.
The Raiders’ secondary also looks improved despite being so young. The young defensive backs haven’t given up huge gains, and Casey Hayward has been lockdown. The defensive backfield as a whole has been helped by the scheme, and Gus Bradley has the players reacting rather than thinking.