Over the last two seasons, the Las Vegas Raiders could’ve been a playoff team each year had the defense been at least average. Unfortunately, the team has been flat-out bad on that side of the ball. This offseason, the Raiders have done a lot to retool the roster and spend more money on defense.
They also hired a new defensive coordinator in Gus Bradley. Though the defense still has a lot to do, the group should be better than it has been in years. General manager Mike Mayock should hold a fair share of the blame for why the defense has struggled. He’s made a number of draft picks that appear questionable. He’s is well aware that the defense hasn’t been good enough.
“We have to get so much better [on defense]. I know it, Jon knows it. We all know it,” Mayock said on The NFL Rhodes Show. “We’ve got to finish games. I’m excited to see whether or not we can generate a pass rush because we have not been disruptive on defense, we don’t take the ball away. We don’t hurry the quarterback. We have a lot of things we have to get better at and we’re very realistic about that. More than anything, I want to see if we can be disruptive on defense and that’s going to be one of our goals.”
The two key additions the Raiders made this offseason were the signing of former Pro Bowl pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue and the drafting of safety Trevon Moehrig. Those two could end up being major difference-makers for the team. The Raiders won’t have an elite defense but they need to make major strides this season.
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Mayock Addresses Draft Criticisms
As previously noted, some of Mayock’s draft picks are coming into question. He understands criticisms but also knows he needs to stick to what he knows.
“At the end of the day, it comes back to eventually being judged by wins and losses,” Mayock said. “A couple years down the road, people will look back and say Mayock sucked or he didn’t and that’s OK. We have to believe in our board just like every other team has to believe in theirs.”
The jury is still out on a number of Mayock draft picks. Between Henry Ruggs, Damon Arnette, Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram, he needs at least two of those guys to develop into very good players. The Raiders had so many good picks over the last three years and need to start hitting on some of them.
Mayock Could Be on Hot Seat
A big reason why Mayock was hired to be a general manager without any prior experience was due to his status as a draft expert. The Raiders have struggled in the draft recently outside of a couple of great picks like Hunter Renfrow and Maxx Crosby. The team has also signed a few busts in free agency.
This could be Mayock’s last year to get things right. Jon Gruden could be headed to his fourth straight season without a playoff berth. There will have to be a fall guy and isn’t going to be the coach. If the Raiders miss the playoffs again, Mayock could be in serious trouble.