Raiders defense adapting well to new system

Raiders defense
Photo Credit: Mike Dixon/Vegas Sports Today

The Raiders defense played its first game in Gus Bradley’s system, and the new defensive coordinator said the team executed it well on Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens in their 33-27 victory.

He said the players picked up their assignments well and he noted there was a lot of communication between them.

“They seem to take ownership of it more,” Bradley said. “They’ve done a great job understanding the game plan and going out there and executing it. Everybody seems to be in tune.”

Photo Credit: Mike Dixon/Vegas Sports Today

Bradley was also impressed with how fast the defense played, and that came from understanding the game and what the coaches are asking of them. This aspect was even more important when facing a dynamic running quarterback like Lamar Jackson.

“We got a couple fumbles that we caused, so it appeared we played fast,” Bradley said. “I thought we played very good assignment football. They got some yards and points, but I think that was the overall theme, is that we played with really good effort. And I thought we played based on the game plan and what we wanted to do, and we executed fairly well. It’s never always there, there’s things we got to work on, but overall that part was good.”

There were many players who obviously stood out, like defensive player of the week Maxx Crosby, but Bradley pointed out that defensive lineman Darius Philon and linebacker Cory Littleton also played well, as did K.J. Wright and Denzel Perryman, who joined the team only recently but had experience in Bradley’s system.

“The corners did a good job staying on top,” he said. “This is a very explosive offense through the run and the pass, so that was one of the keys. And I think those guys contributed along with the rush. Obviously, Maxx and Yannick [Ngakoue] and the interior part.”

Raiders defense faces different challenge in Steelers

The Raiders had to face one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the NFL the first week in Jackson. This week, Las Vegas goes on the road to face perhaps the least mobile quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger. But while Roethlisberger may not be able to outrun anybody, he’s still hard to bring down because of his strength and ability to make subtle moves to escape the rush in the pocket.

“Different style of quarterback; strong, can extend plays like you said by stepping up in the pocket.” Bradley said. “You have to have a plan on him as far as pressure just like we had last week. He’s just very accurate. He does a great job with his eyes, so it’s a whole new set of challenges with him.”

Raiders defense
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger fumble the ball as his is sacked by Bills Mario Addison. Jg 091221 Bills 16

Roethlisberger and his dynamic receivers will face a big challenge to the Raiders secondary, particularly to rookies Tre’von Moehrig and Nate Hobbs. He said having a game under their belt, even during the times when they made mistakes, will be helpful against the Steelers.

“I think when you look at them it’s banked experience,” Bradley said. :Even that fourth and one, part of that safety in the middle is the eraser tackler and he’s got to make that play. And just by his alignment and his angle he took, well there’s a banked experience for him. You’d like to have it a positive banked experience, but they can learn from that too. 

“So, hopefully all these situations that come up are new to him and our defense. So, he just needs to get some banked experiences in there and have some success and learn from his mistakes.”

Backup quarterback Mariota out a few weeks

Marcus Mariota didn’t play during the preseason because of a quad injury, and he aggravated the injury on his one play from scrimmage on Monday Night. Early in the game, Mariota took the snap and ran for 31 yards. But that was his only play of the game.

“Yeah, unfortunate for him, but he’ll get better and when we get him back, we’ll look into integrating him into the offense,” said offensive coordinator Greg Olson. “But again, he’s another skilled player that teams will have to defend. So, we look forward to continue with that package when he’s back.”

Nathan Peterman will take over the backup quarterbacking duties for the next few weeks until Mariota returns. Mariota is expected to meet multiple weeks.

Raiders make roster moves

The Raiders announced Wednesday they have signed free agent defensive tackle Damion Square and guard Jordan Simmons. They also added safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the practice squad.

Square was signed off the Chicago Bears practice squad, he has previously played for the Philadelphia Eagles (2013-14), Kansas City Chiefs (2014) and Los Angeles Chargers (2014-20).

Simmons was previously on the Raiders practice squad in 2017 before joining the Seattle Seahawks (2018-20). He has appeared in 20 games with nine starts in his career.

raiders defense

To make room for them on the roster, the Raiders placed guard Denzelle Good and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on the reserve/injured list. Clinton-Dix replaces cornerback Madre Harper on the practice squad.