Multiple issues plagued the Raiders defense in 2018. The biggest being lack of talent. But youth and inexperience in the new scheme under defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther was also a major factor. Much of that was caused by high turnover.
“It was a tough season, obviously,” said second year defensive tackle Maurice Hurst. “We had a lot of bodies coming in and out of our locker room and it can be extremely tough to put in new defenses and get guys that come in and have to play after sitting on the couch.”
One of the phrases you often hear thrown around by successful teams is “chemistry.” It is an essential component of championship teams. That was clearly lacking with the 2018 Raiders, not only on the defense.
“You don’t grow chemistry, you don’t trust one another, so there wasn’t that trust factor that we are starting to develop.”
The defense which has not ranked better than 20th overall in points allowed since Derek Carr’s rookie year in 2014 fell to historic lows last season. However, they have some reason to feel they will be improved this season.
The talent received a jolt with a defensive heavy rookie class including three picks in the top 40 along the addition of veterans Lamarcus Joyner, Vontaze Burfict, and Brandon Marshall.
But adding veterans and rookies isn’t enough.
“We had some older guys and it was great to have the opportunity to learn from them, but now it’s our time to take it over and start to develop our own identity,” Hurst continued. “That’s something that we didn’t do last year, is to develop an identity, and I think that’s what we are going to try and accomplish early on and just set a tone and keep it rolling throughout the season.”
More important than talent on paper is the expectation that second year players Maurice Hurst, Arden Key, and P.J. Hall will make a big leap in year two and returning players finding their stride in the defensive scheme. This team will live and die by their development.
Editor’s note: Levi Damien contributed to this article.