Las Vegas Raiders: What does Gus Bradley bring to the defense?

Las Vegas Raiders, Gus Bradley. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Las Vegas Raiders, Gus Bradley. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Las Vegas Raiders are hoping their newest defensive coordinator, longtime NFL sideline man Gus Bradley, is the answer.

You know you have had some issues when it comes to a particular side of the football when one of your players is named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and your team still can’t stop anyone. Such was the case in 2016 for the then-Oakland Raiders and standout Khalil Mack.

The Las Vegas Raiders finished 12-4 and reached the playoffs and quarterback Derek Carr led a potent offensive attack. But only six teams in the league allowed more total yards that season and the club surrendered 385 points and a disappointing 45 offensive touchdowns.

Fast forward to 2020. A 6-3 start turned into an 8-8 finish and a failure to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. Jon Gruden’s offense was quite balanced and the team was eighth in the league in total yards and 10th in scoring with 434 points (27.2 average).

But the Silver and Black simply couldn’t stop anyone, allowing a dubious franchise record, as well as the third-most points in the league (478), and a disturbing 52 offensive touchdowns, 24 on the ground and 28 through the air. The Raiders’ pass rush produced only 21 sacks — one-third of those by Maxx Crosby (7) — and the club managed only 15 takeaways.

With three games to go this past season, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was fired and replaced by Rod Marinelli. But that didn’t seem to matter. All told, the Raiders allowed 237 points in their final seven games (not all attributed to the defense), 30-plus in five of those outings.

So what does veteran coach Gus Bradley bring to the table after being hired as the new defensive coordinator, via Case Keefer of the Las Vegas Sun? Familiarity with the division will be a plus. He just spent the past four seasons with the rival Chargers. While Los Angeles managed a 12-20 record the past two years, this was a playoff team in 2018 with a 12-4 record.

And despite the issue the last two seasons, the Bolts finished sixth in total defense in 2019 and 10th in yards allowed per game in ’20.

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Bradley certainly has a lot to fix here but he has made his presence felt at his previous NFL stops. The team does have some promising young players on this side of the ball but it’s been a struggle for too many years. The Raiders have allowed a stunning 152 offensive touchdowns in their last 48 regular-season contests. Can you say challenge?