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No defense forces fewer turnovers than a Paul Guenther defense

The Raiders’ best chance on defense is going to be forcing some turnovers

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Las Vegas Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Since hiring Jon Gruden as head coach and Paul Guenther as defensive coordinator in 2018, the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders are 32nd in turnovers forced. Over their last 38 contests, the Raiders have taken the ball away from the other team 35 times, a rate less than half that of first place New England; the Patriots have 76 turnovers forced in their last 38 games.

Las Vegas has forced four fewer turnovers in that time than the Lions and Chargers, the two teams tied for 30th.

This season, the Raiders rank 31st in turnovers forced through seven weeks. They had one against the Saints, one against the Patriots and one against the Chiefs. Since hiring Guenther, the franchise has had 23 games with a turnover forced, tied with three other teams for the fewest such contests in the last 2.5 years.

The Raiders are 11-12 when they force a turnover under Gruden as compared to 3-12 when they don’t.

This season’s takeaways come via Johnathan Abram, Jeff Heath and Nicholas Morrow, who each have one interception. Erik Harris has forced a fumble on Rob Gronkowski, but it went out of bounds. Abram recovered a fumble, but it was lost by teammate Hunter Renfrow.

This isn’t unusual for Guenther.

In addition to the Raiders finishing 31st in takeaways last season (nine interceptions, five fumble recoveries by the defense), Guenther’s Oakland defense also ranked 22nd in that category in 2018. Prior to that, Guenther spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator for Marvin Lewis and in 2017, they finished 30th in takeaways.

A Paul Guenther defense has finished in the bottom three in takeaways in two of the last three years and as of now his Raiders rank 31st.

In his final season with Cincinnati, the Bengals did have 12 games with a turnover forced but only twice did they have more than one and they never had more than two. The Raiders have nine games under Guenther with at least two turnovers forced, fewest in the NFL during that time, and they are 8-1 in those contests.

You have to go back to 2015 to find the last time a Guenther defense had multiple games in a season with at least three turnovers. That Bengals defense ranked sixth in takeaways, second in points allowed, sixth in net yards per pass attempt allowed and the team went 12-4. Had they not been starting A.J. McCarron against the Steelers in the playoffs, Guenther’s defense may have had a deep postseason run.

Cincinnati forced two turnovers in that 18-16 loss to Pittsburgh, but turned it over four times themselves.

The Raiders next face the Browns, Chargers and Broncos, none of whom rank in the top 10 in ball security and Denver ranks 31st in giveaways. Las Vegas won’t be able to stop many offenses this season from picking up large chunks of yards and converting a lot of third downs, but if they can find a way to turn around Guenther’s lake of turnovers, the Raiders defense could at least appear to be a lot better than it currently looks.