Autumn is known for cold weather and falling leaves, but another fall tradition is quickly emerging: frustration with Paul Guenther. When the Las Vegas Raiders were winning, allowing a now 2-2 Carolina Panthers team to creep back into the game and take the lead was acceptable. Allowing a regressing Drew Brees to throw over 300 yards was also acceptable as the Raiders would go on to win the game. In addition, Josh Allen averaged 7.8 yards per attempt, on their way to a 30-point outburst.
But, now that the Raiders had Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead run circles around them en route to their first loss of the season, people must start questioning Guenther. These were not trick plays that the Patriots were dicing the Raiders with, but run sets, perhaps with a unique blocking strategy, but simple run plays nonetheless. If you add in Sunday’s debacle, where the Bills picked the defense apart, those questions become screams. Devin Montgomery gained the corner on a touchdown, where Erik Harris took another poor angle.
This was supposed to be a revamped and supercharged defense. Sure, the Raiders have had their fair share of injuries, but that cannot be an excuse for not being able to tackle. it can be difficult to blame a defensive coordinator for players’ inability to wrap up the ballcarrier. However, adjustments fall under his scope. If you notice a player struggling, subs exist for a reason. The Las Vegas Raiders promised a roster with the potential to succeed in not only this season but in many future seasons to come.
Margin For Error
If the Raiders could put up 40 points on command, this could be considered an acceptable defense, but with the offense’s unfortunate ability to disappear quicker than a magician’s assistant, the defense is writing checks the offense cannot be expected to cash. The Bills converted 7-13 third-down situations. Sustaining drives tires defenses out. Like the old saying, fatigue makes cowards of many.
To add to their woes, the Raiders dialed up the blitz significantly more than last season. However, the numbers remain atrocious. The Raiders currently boast four sacks this season (Crosby 3, Nassib .5, Hurst.5). This puts them on pace for 16 or one per game. By any metric, that needs to rapidly improve.
Regardless of the opponent’s strategy, the Raiders defense has been disappointingly subpar, sitting deep in the bottom ten in turnover margin, sacks, and takeaways per game. This is not the defense fans were promised. To be fair, this could be due to injuries which, in this case, means this is not the defensive coordinator fans were promised. However, other teams must contend with them, too.
With the Denver Broncos faltering and the Los Angeles Chargers inconsistent, a wildcard opportunity could present itself. With a tilt looming against the Chiefs this Sunday, Paul Guenther must fix this immediately. If not, his replacement sits right on staff.