Las Vegas Raiders: Can Jimmy Garoppolo win without a top defense?

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Ever since Jimmy Garoppolo has been in the pros he has had a reliable defense to back him up for the most part of his tenure. That's not the case in Vegas and it has to be taken into account.

Garoppolo entered the league at the same time Derek Carr did. He won the Super Bowl in his rookie season with the Patriots. He won it again two years later, thanks to Tom Brady and the defense. He could have been a part of two more Super Bowls had he not been traded to San Francisco in 2017, where he appeared in one more ultimate game.

He's battled some injuries throughout his career, like anyone else, but has redeemed himself by leading his teammates to playoff runs. He's bound to get hurt again, but this time he won't have a top five or so defense to take the pressure off of him in Vegas.

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In 2014 with New England, he was surrounded by a top-10 defense, but he didn't play much. In 2015 it was the same thing. The Patriots were number one in total defense in 2016 and in 2017 they were top five again before the trade went down. Those rankings are courtesy of

The Niners were bad in their first season with Kyle Shanahan when they dealt for Garoppolo. They went 6-10 and were toward the bottom of the barrel in defense. In 2018 it got worse and Garoppolo got injured. 2019 changed the course of the franchise for the better though. They started 8-0 with one of the best defenses in the game.

Then the 49ers drafted Trey Lance and Brock Purdy over the next few seasons and the rest is history in the bay area. Garoppolo is now the man to run a potent offense on paper but has arguably the worst defense to pair with in his career. During that time he's had the privilege of playing with Hall-of-Fame types like Chandler Jones, Darrelle Revis, Stephen Gilmore, Richard Sherman, Nick Bosa, and now Maxx Crosby.

Not to mention that he has been around some of the most brilliant minds and stable organizations in the sport. The silver and black have not sniffed the success that the Patriots and 49ers have had with Garoppolo under their helm. Josh McDaniels is the closest thing to it, but the jury remains rightfully harsh towards him when it comes to being a head man.

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Nonetheless, the Raiders could surprise under Patrick Graham and at least be a middle-of-the-pack unit. That would probably put them in contention for the playoffs, as long as the offense and Garoppolo do what they are capable of doing with pieces all those aces around him. It's not a defensive-dominated era anymore which bodes well for Garoppolo, but not for a defense that may still be missing the talent to get them over the hump of Kansas City.