When it comes to allowing points, the Raiders appear to have more excuses than answers. The team has ranked in the top 12 in the league for most points allowed nine times in the last nine seasons. For those counting on your fingers, that is every season since 2011.
Players, coaches, and fans have all come and gone, but the fact remains that the Raiders just have not played good defense in the past decade.
However, it really is not about the past and whom we had then, but whom we have now.
This season, the defense needs to step up. Stockpiling a team’s offense can leave the offensive coordinator starstruck, but it can also leave the defensive coordinator feeling a bit dull. Fortunately, the Raiders have also stockpiled their defense, just with a little less stardom.
Along with the defense, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is also feeling the heat of the expectations placed for the team. In his first year with the Raiders, the team allowed 380 yards per game (YPG), but in the team’s last season without Guenther, the team allowed 350 YPG. In 2018, 380 yards allowed would be the 7th highest.
Guenther can take solace in the fact that not everything went poorly his first year. The Raiders recorded 14 interceptions, which was an increase of 9 from the 2017 season. Unfortunately, that is about where the positives end as Oakland also recorded 13 sacks last season. Not only was that the lowest sack total recorded by a team (by 17 sacks) last season, but it also means the Raiders played at least three whole games last season without sacking the quarterback.
Playing the Raiders last year must have felt like a preseason walkthrough for opposing quarterbacks. It was not as though the Raiders boasted such a feared defense that teams would adjust their schemes for quick, max protect passes; the team just could not get to the quarterback, even if their jobs depended on it.
While last season the players’ jobs were at risk, it may now be Guenther sliding to the hot seat. If Jon Gruden were to have a literal hot seat, it did not get its temperature from its previous occupant. Gruden does his best to run as tight a ship as possible and doing this requires him to quickly dispose of anyone that does not increase the team’s probability of success.
Although he may have Gruden breathing down his neck, Guenther controls his own destiny. Gruden brought Guenther in for many reasons. Yet, one significant fact is how uniquely he coaches his defensive line.
Some may believe that sitting on the hot seat before Guenther’s second season even began may come off as hasty. However, a blitz specialist leading his team to 13 sacks in a season cannot feel too secure about his job.