Since Jon Gruden returned as Raiders head coach, the team’s defense has been one of its biggest issues.
It was glaring when the club had only 13 sacks in 2018 following the trade of edge rusher Khalil Mack. While the unit improved in 2019, it regressed to finish 25th in yards allowed and 30th in points allowed in 2020.
So Las Vegas replaced defensive coordinator Paul Guenther with Gus Bradley and signed several veterans — headlined by edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue — to make the unit more competitive in the coming year.
During an appearance on The NFL Rhodes Show with Lindsay Rhodes, General Manager Mike Mayock noted just how important Las Vegas’ defensive improvement is for 2021.
“We have to get so much better [on defense]. I know it, Jon knows it. We all know it,” Mayock said, via Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “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.”
If things go to plan with Ngakoue, the Raiders should be plenty disruptive. The edge rusher has already set out some lofty expectations, saying last month that he and fellow D-end Maxx Crosby are the “best duo that’s going to come hit the scene.”
Las Vegas’ entire defense will benefit if the pair can generate a strong pass rush. And that could make the Raiders legitimate competitors for a playoff spot in the AFC>