Going into Year 2 with Josh McDaniels at the helm, the biggest question mark in terms of which side of the ball would struggle was the Las Vegas Raiders defense. The Silver and Black have long struggled on that side of the ball, and with the offense seemingly set with Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, and Jimmy Garoppolo, the thought was they would be able to score easily in 2023.
However, that proved to be false, as McDaniels was terrible, Garoppolo was benched, and the offense could not score more than 20 points in a game. While the offense struggled, eventually turning to rookie Aidan O'Connell at quarterback, the defense was quietly keeping the team in games early on.
Then came the hiring of Antonio Pierce as the team's interim head coach, and since then, the defense has been a direct reflection of their new head coach. Pierce was a star linebacker for a New York Giants team that toppled the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, and the current Raiders defense is playing with the same kind of nastiness that he used to.
Their first two tests with Pierce as head coach was against offenses that were downright terrible, as the New York Giants and Jets have severe issues on that side of the ball. Guys like Tommy DeVito and Zach Wilson are not going to hurt you, especially at home, but in Week 11, the Raiders new-look defense will be pushed to the limits.
Raiders defense will key the team's success in Week 11
The Raiders defense has been led by Maxx Crosby all season long, as he leads the NFL in quarterback pressures, and is making a bid to be the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. However, unlike other seasons, he is not the only guy making an impact every week, as Robert Spillane was recently named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Week after his monsterous performance against the New York Jets.
Las Vegas has also been strong in the secondary, something that has evaded them for most of the last 20 years. With the arrival of Jack Jones, the defensive backfield will get another shot in the arm, a good thing considering the amount of talent Miami has on the offensive side of the ball.
The Raiders defense will be the key to victory on Sunday against the Dolphins, and a strong effort will put the rest of the NFL on notice. Las Vegas will finish out their pre-bye week schedule at home against Kansas City the following weekend, with their firmly set on making a run to the playoffs this season.