Analyst Pleads With Raiders to Bench Defensive Starter Against Chiefs

johnathan abram

Getty Johnathan Abram tackling Nyheim Hines.

The Las Vegas Raiders season is in free fall but it’s still not too late to turn things around. They are set to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday and a win over the AFC West rival would go a long way in helping the team reach the playoffs. However, a win over the Chiefs won’t be easy. They are on a five-game winning streak and beat the Raiders in a 41-14 blowout in Las Vegas less than a month ago.

If they hope to beat the rival, they could need to make some drastic changes. Safety Johnathan Abram has been better for the Raiders this season as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has him playing in the box. He’s a solid run defender but has a very difficult time in coverage. In the first game against the Chiefs this season, Abram allowed nine catches on nine targets for 127 yards and two touchdowns. It was a nightmare performance for the former first-round pick.

Against a team that doesn’t run much like the Chiefs, Abram is a liability on defense. Longtime Raiders analyst JT The Brick wants to see the team bench the safety for Sunday’s matchup.

“The way [Abram] gets exposed in the passing game is alarming and I’ve seen that movie enough with Kansas City,” JT said on his daily Las Vegas radio show, via Raiders Beat.

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Should Raiders Bench Abram?

johnathan abram

GettyLas Vegas Raiders DB Johnathan Abram.

Abram has started all 12 games for the Raiders this season and plays really hard. His struggles in pass coverage aren’t due to a lack of effort. This far into the season, the team is unlikely to bench him right now. However, it may not be a bad idea to limit his snaps. Defenses have had success using two high safeties against the Chiefs. The Raiders didn’t take that approach in the first matchup and got lit up.

In the second matchup, Bradley can’t continue to try to prove that his way of doing things is superior. The problem is that Abram shouldn’t be put in coverage. Dallin Leavitt and Roderic Teamer are the only other safeties on the active roster. They aren’t great in coverage either but could do a better job than Abram. It’s something that Bradley should seriously consider if the Chiefs are picking on Abram early.

Nate Hobbs Continues to Impress

While the Raiders do have some issues in the secondary, the group has been much improved this season. One of the brightest spots for the team has been rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs. The fifth-round pick earned a starting spot at the beginning of the season and hasn’t let it go with his impressive play. In fact, Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus believes that Hobbs has been the most impressive Day 3 player to come out of the 2021 draft class.

The most impressive of all Day 3 players, in my opinion, has been Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs. That’s because he fell to Pick No. 168 for no particular reason other than evaluation. It’s an evaluation he’s proven incorrect since Day 1. He’s been one of the NFL’s best slot corners this season, and an all-around one at that. He’s earned an 80.9 run-defense grade to go along with a 75.1 mark in coverage.

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