With their biggest win in years coming in Week 5, the Las Vegas Raiders couldn’t build on the momentum against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They got it close in the fourth quarter but the wheels quickly fell off and the game ended up being a blowout. The offense struggled to stay consistent throughout the game but the defense is obviously a complete mess.
They’ve allowed 32.8 points a game this season which is not what you’d expect from a unit they’ve invested so much into. Head coach Jon Gruden wasn’t happy with the defensive performance on Sunday.
“We have to play better, obviously on defense,” Gruden said after the loss. “We got better players, we gotta play better and we will.”
The Raiders have used multiple first-round picks on defensive players recently and spent big money bringing in linebackers this offseason. So far, the returns haven’t been good at all. Despite an excellent second-half against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5, the defense hasn’t shown any signs of life and they don’t appear to be getting better.
Based on what Gruden was saying after the game, it sounds like changes could be coming.
“We have to play better and we will,” Gruden said. “It goes back to me. I’m not making excuses. I’m not going to say anything here today, but there are things we need to look at and that process begins as soon as this press conference is over.”
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Gruden Calls out Lack of Pass Rush
A big problem for the Raiders defense right now is that they can’t get to the opposing quarterback at all. Tom Brady was clean all day on Sunday and was almost never even pressured.
“If you let Tom Brady stand back there and survey the field … he’s still one of the very, very best,” Gruden said. “We have to generate a better rush.”
Gruden doubled down.
“If we’re going to rush four, we have to do a lot better than we did today,” Gruden said.
There was hope that the defensive line turned things around after the Chiefs game but that obviously wasn’t the case. Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby haven’t been able to build off their rookie years and don’t seem to be improving much. There is talent to be found on the defense and Johnathan Abram not playing obviously hurt but there are some massive problems that the Raiders need to figure out if they’re going to be legit contenders this year.
Will Gruden Fire Paul Guenther?
At this point, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that defensive coordinator Paul Guenther isn’t elevating the defense. He’s now in his third season with the team and his defense seems to be getting worse. Gruden is a staunch supporter of Guenther and does believe in him but at a certain point, the Raiders need to accept that they might need to make a change.
Raider fans won’t like this fact but Gruden isn’t likely to fire Guenther quite yet. If he didn’t fire him after last year’s disaster of a defense, he’s not likely to make a move before the season has hit its halfway point. However, Gruden can only watch his defense fall apart so much. The Raiders offense has been really good for the most part but the team can’t win unless the offense plays a perfect game. That’s not a recipe for success.