Raiders Porous Defense Is A Mess Ziegler And McDaniels Have Created
Josh McDaniels, Dave Ziegler, Raiders
Oct 2, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels embraces Las Vegas Raiders General Manager Dave Ziegler after the Raiders defeated the Denver Broncos 32-23 at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

We all know the drill.

New regime comes in, results are underwhelming, and the blame needs to go somewhere, right? And, well, none of us are honest enough to point the finger at ourselves, and so we do the easiest thing: blame the last guy.

For the Raiders, the defense has been an unmitigated disaster, no matter how you break it down. 27th in opponents points per game. 28th in opponents’ yards per game. (For context, the Raiders were 14th in yards allowed per game and 26th in points allowed per game last season.)

So obviously, it’s Gruden’s fault, right? And Mayock? All those missed draft picks! Right? Right?

As good friend Lee Corso likes to say: not so fast, my friend.

Of the 10 defenders who played the most snaps on Sunday, seven were newcomers. Not holdovers, not inherited problems — guys that Dave Ziegler, Josh McDaniels and Patrick Graham went out and acquired one way or another.

They traded away Yannick Ngakoue — who had 10 sacks last season and has 4.5 already this year for the Colts — for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. They gave Chandler Jones $32 million guaranteed over what is essentially a two-year deal (which has netted the team a whopping 0.5 sacks over the first eight games). They gave Bilal Nichols a two-year deal worth $11 million, Anthony Averett got $4 million and then traded away Trayvon Mullen for a Day 3 draft pick.

On the defensive line, only Maxx Crosby is a holdover from last season (and he’s the only guy who has been effective). At linebacker, only Denzel Perryman was in the top 10 for snaps on Sunday, and then in the defensive backfield, only Tre’Von Moehrig cracked the list. Other newcomers who we haven’t mentioned yet but who played a lot on Sunday: Duron Harmon (100% of snaps), Blake Martinez (91% of snaps) and Andrew Billings (55% of snaps).

It’s also worth mentioning that the Raiders are about $9 million under the cap at the moment, according to Spotrac.

To recap: their best player is a holdover. The stud pass-rusher they traded away has been way better than the huge free agent they brought in to replace him. They overhauled the defense.

And they still suck.

So: when Ziegler and Co. try to convince you that it isn’t their fault, that they inherited a mess, and that they need some time, just remember the drill:

Not so fast, my friend.