Raiders’ to-do list: Revamping a historically bad defense is Job 1, but there are other issues as well

Look no further than the basic statistic in football to identify where the Raiders need to upgrade following an 8-8 season.

Points scored: 434. Pretty good.

Points allowed: 474: Beyond awful.

To be fair, the points allowed total includes three touchdowns scored by the opposing defense. And it’s still beyond awful.

Coach Jon Gruden was non-specific at his season-ending press conference, but alluded to continuity in the secondary and pass rush both inside and outside. Gruden, along with general manager Mike Mayock, will be working overtime to shore up the worst Raiders’ defense in the Super Bowl era.

Defense is the biggest issue, but let’s face it — the Raiders knew their defense was poor when they were 6-3 and were helpless in the plunge to 8-8 because their offense had issues running the ball, scoring touchdowns in the red zone and with turnovers.

There defense needs an overhaul in terms of system, vision and personnel. The offense needs needs help as well.

Five areas which the Raiders have already begun studying closely with regard to 2021:

1. Hire a defensive coordinator

Gruden said the Raiders were going to move “quickly. What little information there is on the process suggests they’re talking with assistants who either he or interim coordinator Rod Marinelli have had experience with. Gus Bradley, Kris Richard, Joe Barry and Raheem Morris in particular.

Gruden has coached with all four. Richard, who has been a head coaching candidate before, took last year off rather than accept a position coach position. Richard took over defensive play-calling for Marinelli while with the Dallas Cowboys in 2018.

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The coordinator is only the start. After giving up 478 points, the Raiders can be expected to make sweeping changes on the defensive staff after they identify their coordinator. Then they’ve got to hope there is some kind of off-season to implement changes in the system. In terms of the system, based on the names so far, expect a lot of Tampa 2 and Seattle Seahawks style of defense. Gruden said at his season-ending press conference he’s partial to a 4-3 defense as his base.

Maxx Crosby #98 needs help as as an outside pass rush theat in 20201. (Getty Images) Getty Images2. Identify on edge rusher

There are no obvious Khalil Macks out there, so that name and the Raiders’ decision to trade him following the 2017 season will come up again. But the Raiders desperately need help outside for Maxx Crosby with Clelin Ferrell having the look of a two-down base end, Carl Nassib struggling as a free agent and Arden Key barely getting a whiff of the quarterback in 2020.

Free agency may or may not include the Ravens’ Matt Judon, the Buccaneers’ Shaquil Barrett, the Ravens Yannick Ngakoue and the Rams’ Leonard Floyd. Barring a franchise tag or re-signing with their team, they could be on the market. And only Mark Davis knows if he’s got the cash to reel in a big one.

The no-doubt-about-it edge player doesn’t appear to be available through the draft, either. More likely, that player will come mid-round …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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