Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham brings with him a new scheme and philosophy. But is it that much different from last year’s concepts?
The Raiders made the playoffs last year with Gus Bradley running the defense. Many times, fans were frustrated with his conservative approach or his infamous “prevent” defense. Regardless, Bradley was not retained once the new duo of head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler was in place.
Graham, a defensive coordinator with stops in Miami and New York, was brought in to replace Bradley. One of the biggest questions surrounding Graham was his style of defense, which many felt was a major shift from Bradley.
Change is a frequent occurrence in the NFL, and the Raiders are no exception. Graham’s defenses are often made up of versatile players, which is something that several of the players on the Raiders have. Excellent awareness and IQ have often been said to be strong prerequisites to succeeding in Graham’s scheme. Why is that? Well, when the word “complex” is used to describe your defense, you can see why.
While speaking to the media recently, Graham was asked about that notion. In particular, the subject of the question was if players are adjusting to his more complex scheme.
Raiders new DC trying to build off 2021 success?
“I mean, football is not as complex as everybody thinks. I mean, in football, you have a single high zone, you have a single high man. They played that here last year. You have a split safety, zone split safety, man, they played that here last year. I mean, we’re not reinventing the wheeling wheel anywhere. Again, from each system, it’s usually language. That’s probably the thing that’s different.”
It’s quite obvious that Graham is doing his best to build off last year’s success. Was the Raiders’ defense perfect in 2021? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t successful and has several promising players. Graham is right; football’s concepts are inherently the same, but new language is certainly a key factor. No one is doubting that this will challenge each of the players, but so far, Graham is impressed. He stated that he’s “impressed” with how his players have taken to his system in the early going.
As training camp progresses, it’ll be interesting to see how the Raiders’ players continue to embrace Graham’s changes. So far, they are off to a good start.