The 2023 NFL season had its fair share of ups and downs for the Las Vegas Raiders, as they finished out 8-9 and outside of the playoffs However, there was a lot of good to come out of last season, as they have found their head coach in Antonio Pierce, and are building a strong group of coaches around him.
One key on that coaching staff is Patrick Graham, who took his defense to new heights during the 2023 campaign. Led by all-world defensive end Maxx Crosby, the Raiders defense struck fear in the hearts of their opponents late in the season, leading Las Vegas to wins over all three other AFC West teams.
However, for the first time in a long time, it was not only Crosby who showed dominance on the defensive side of the ball. Graham took a group that was not expected to do much in 2023 and turned them into a nasty unit, led by some surprising young players who took a big step forward this past season.
Going into next season, this Raiders defense has the talent to take it to the next level.
Raiders defense should take it to the next level in 2024
Everybody knows about Crosby, and rightfully so, as he put together a season that has made him a finalist for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year honor. Crosby had help along the defensive line in 2023, as Malcolm Koonce became a legitimate pass rusher once Antonio Pierce took over as the team's interim head coach.
Fellow young defensive player Divine Deablo also took a major step forward, and free agent linebacker Robert Spillane proved to be an absolute steal. In the secondary, the arrival of Marcus Epps in free agency helped in the growth of Trevon Moehrig, while Jack Jones was an outstanding signing in the second half of the season.
Most of the talent on this Raiders defense is coming back next season, and it will be Graham's third at the helm of the unit. They showed that they are going to play with passion and illicit pain every time they step onto the field, and in 2024, they could round into one of the top-5 groups in all of football.