How are the Raiders managing defensive expectations?

Are the players, or their coaches, feeling any sense of pressure?
Las Vegas Raiders OTA Offseason Workout
Las Vegas Raiders OTA Offseason Workout / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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Coach Caldwell’s Remarks

Mike Caldwell, in his first season as the Raiders linebackers coach, is already praising his unit. It is important to get some background on who Mike Caldwell is to understand the gravity of his comments. Not only did he play 11 NFL seasons but he has been coaching in the league since 2008, winning a Super Bowl as a linebackers coach for the Buccaneers in the 2020-21 season. As a rookie for the Browns, he played under legendary coaches Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, and he has coached under the likes of Andy Reid, Sean McDermott, Todd Bowles, and Doug Pederson. Simply put, the guys know football.

Caldwell, in a recent interview on Sports Illustrated’s Insider Podcast, alluded to the fact that our linebacking core was disrespected. He mentioned both Spillane and Deablo, but also praised Luke Masterson, a former undrafted free agent, saying that the unit has “three guys that have played, understand the game, and have been productive”. As a new coach, it is so important to have guys who already understand the ropes and the expectations, but he is no stranger to some of the players already in the room.

Apparently, after an impressive highlight against Derrick Henry years back, Caldwell said he knew exactly who Robert Spillane was. It is no shock to him that the work he has put in led to so much success last season. His final comments were about a new member of the room, rookie Tommy Eichenberg.

According to Caldwell, Eichenberg is “really diligent in trying to learn the game” and so far in OTAs the young linebacker has “done a real good job”. This is promising as our linebacker room is not always the most talked about level of our defense. It sounds like Coach Caldwell will have his group ready to go and meet or exceed expectations, playing with a chip on their shoulder, just how AP wants them to.