Heading into the 2021 season, the Las Vegas Raiders know they must be a better defensive team if they want to get back to the postseason.
During the 2020 season, the Raider defense was one of the poorer units in the NFL as they offered little resistance both up front and in the secondary. Las Vegas was inconsistent on that end, and the team decided to part ways with former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther after Week 14 as a result.
The Raiders are widely expected to address their defense via the 2021 NFL Draft and free agency, but are also hoping to see a bounce-back season from David Irving. The defensive lineman signed with the Las Vegas practice squad last October and now figures to be a key member of their defensive line after getting a full offseason under his belt.
According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, Irving was appreciative of the organization taking a shot on him and is ready to be a leader:
“You’ve got some real people here who can appreciate a unique specimen like myself,” Irving said. “I am a bit different on and off the field, and they understand that. I am comfortable here … not only that, man, but I see a team here with a bunch of good, young players that have been missing a little leadership.
“And I know that that’s going to be me, and everything is lining up perfectly for it to be that way. I see this as my team and my defense and I am going to put in the work, and I am going to back that up.”
Irving also took a shot at his former team, the Dallas Cowboys, and expressed his belief that he is where he should be:
“I hated going to work for the Cowboys,” Irving said. “A Cowboy is all hardy har har and all this America’s Team stuff. I belong in Las Vegas with the Raiders.”
Irving’s attitude fits the mold of player that head coach Jon Gruden likes, and his edge and energy should benefit what was a disappointing defensive front last season. Irving’s talent was a worthwhile flier for the Silver and Black to take a chance on, and hopefully he is able to deliver.