The Oakland Raiders already look better in 2019 than they did in 2018 and much of that is thanks to the defense finally generating some pass rush. Though the team couldn’t pull off a week 2 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, they were able to bring down Patrick Mahomes twice, which brings the team’s season total to five through two games. Now, that might not seem like that big of a number, but Oakland only accumulated 13 sacks through all of 2018. The 2019 version of the defense is almost halfway to that number. Though, there is one player on the defensive line that the Raiders would like to see more from.
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Jon Gruden Calls out Arden Key for Lack of Pass Rush
Before Arden Key battled injuries during his junior year, he was projected to be the number one overall pick by Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports. However, he ended up falling all the way to the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Raiders were hoping they had a steal on their hands, but Key only mustered one sack in his rookie year. It looked like he was poised for a breakout year in 2019, but through two games, he hasn’t picked up a single sack. Head coach Jon Gruden singled out Key as a player he’d like to see more from.
“We gotta get more out of Arden,” said Gruden when asked about the pass rusher on Monday. “I’ve said that for long enough. Arden, if you’re listening, we gotta get you going. He’s a good player, he’s had a good training camp, he’s healthy.
“We put our defensive line in some tough spots [Sunday] for a lot of reasons to try and stop [the Chiefs’] running game and it did stymy, I think, some of the guys’ ability to rush the passer, but Arden’s gonna get home, Arden’s gonna take off here, hopefully, soon.”
There’s no doubt that Key has all the tools to be an excellent pass rusher. He’s tall, he’s strong and he’s athletic. The Raiders made him a starter to begin the season, so he needs to prove that he should keep that spot. Rookie Clelin Ferrell has already gotten a sack and Benson Mayowa leads the AFC with 3.5 sacks. Key is going to need to get in on the action to prove he belongs at the top of the lineup. The Raiders still believe in his talent, but he has to give them something to work with.
“I think he’s done a good job both in the run and he’s been active in the rush,” said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther when he was asked about Key’s development earlier in the offseason. “He looks a lot stronger to me. Hopefully, he’s another guy that can keep getting better because he can play first, second and third down now, so that’s good to see.”
He’s going to have turn things around quickly if he’s going to keep that starting spot.