The two defenses that allowed more points per game than the Raiders’ defense were the Jaguars and the Lions. That doesn’t mean that Coach Gruden’s defense is that bad, despite last season’s numbers, there is one player that brings that sparkle of hope, consistency, and competitiveness that is much needed in every level of the NFL.
These attributes have been recognized throughout his short professional career. Entering his third season in the NFL, the kid with just two years at the pro level is making his path, and that is why he is being recognized by the top players in the NFL.
Any member of the Raider Nation can imagine that the guy in the discussion is Maxx Crosby, and like any young player, he has a lot to learn and he is on the right way accordingly to the new Defensive Coordinator: Gus Bradley.
Bradley left the Chargers ranked as a top-10 defense for 3 years in a row with a huge impact on players like J. Bosa, K. Murray, and M Ingram III. Let’s not forget that new Raiders CB Casey Hayward Jr. was also an important piece for the Chargers and now he hopefully becomes the anchor between the young players and a new defensive system, which to work, needs as much help as possible. This is also where Yannick Ngakoue raises his hand; the 26-year-old veteran will be the impactful player and also a strong anchor for the defensive scheme because Bradley for sure will fit him where he needs to.
The brand-new Defensive Coordinator brings not only his 16 years of experience in the NFL; the “Gus Bradley Starting Pack” includes the new set of coaches with DB’s Coach Ron Milus and LB’s Coach Richard Smith. Both coaches have been working with Bradley since 2017 and now in their 4th year together, Raider Nation couldn’t be more anxious about how does the franchise will start to look in late July for training camp.
Defensive Line Coach, Rod Marinelli kept his job, one of the most respected and experienced coaches around the league should. Marinelli took over a defensive line unit full of injuries and COVID-19 issues during the weirdest year in sports around the world. Despite all that, Marinelli’s mentorship was quickly acquired by veteran DT Johnathan Hankins (16 games started with 48 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble). Crosby also responded well, and under Marinelli’s direction, Maxx led the team in sacks for the second year in a row while also adding 38 stops, one pass defended, and one fumble recovery after starting in all 16 contests for the first time in his career. Crosby is the fifth player drafted in the third round or later to record at least 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in a single season. Another player that improved his game last year was the fourth pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, DE Clelin Ferrell, who started in 11 contests and tallied a career-high 10 quarterback hits.
It feels like bringing new personalities as Bradley said during Minicamp, will benefit from the fresh start in the side of the ball that it also feels is not criticized as it should.
The future looks positive, we need to wait and also see how the rest of the team adapts, Abram has the skill-set to become the face of the secondary if he gets finally the patience to wait until the development of the play and react accordingly. Mullen’s numbers went also up last year, his career totals include 32 appearances with 26 starts, 109 tackles (94 solo), three INTs, and 24 passes defended while adding five tackles on special teams. Damon Arnette started slow appearing only in 9 games with 25 tackles (21 solo) and two passes defended. The addition of the “Jim Thorpe Award” to this young secondary brings also more ways to get creative, Trevon Moehrig is predicted to be one of the rookies with immediate impact on the field, just as another rookie who we must not keep our eyes away from Tyree Gillespie, who can be in every side of the field, his midfield awareness is something really interesting.
We don’t know exactly how different will this defense look, but one thing is for sure, it will be different and with Mini Camp, in just a few weeks we just need to wait and see how everything develops.