The Las Vegas Raiders defense stepped up in a big way this past weekend, shutting out the Los Angeles Chargers in the second half as the offense tried to stage a rally. However, the problem has been consistency on that side of the ball for years now, and it seems like no matter who they draft, or bring in, the defense is at the bottom of the NFL.
Las Vegas has gone through numerous defensive coordinators, schemes, and personnel, but it seems like every season, they struggle on all three levels. Looking at the rest of the NFL this season, it is clear now that it may be a case of the franchise holding onto the wrong players, and not trying to keep the good ones in-house.
Take Nicholas Morrow for example, who current plays for the Philadelphia Eagles. Morrow was signed by the Raiders as an undrafted player in 2017, and spent the first five seasons of his NFL career with the franchise.
After the 2021 season, Morrow was let go after missing the entire year, and was quickly signed by the Chicago Bears in March. With Chicago, Morrow started every game during the 2022 NFL season, racking up 116 tackles, 11 of which went for a loss, while also nabbing an interception.
In 2023, he signed on with the Eagles, and has rounded into one of the highest-rated linebackers in the game.
Andrew Billings is another promising defender the Raiders let walk
Staying with the Chicago Bears theme, Andrew Billings started 14 games for the Raiders at defensive tackle last season, a position that has struggled in 2023. Unfortunately for Las Vegas, Billings has not struggled with the Bears, and on a weekly basis makes big plays up front for Chicago.
Imagine a world where both Billings and Morrow remained in the Silver and Black, helping this defense finally take it to the next level. That is the problem with the Raiders in recent years, as they swing and miss on players they bring in, while letting guys with tremendous promise walk out the door.
Maybe the Raiders can turn it around on defense this season, and there was a lot to like about the second half this past Sunday. However, watching guys flourish with other organizations is getting a bit tired at this point, especially guys who can help a defense that has been one of the worst in the NFL for the last 20 years.