Raiders’ third-year defensive coordinator Paul Guenther had some bold comments about the drastic improvement made on his side of the ball — and in turn, put immense pressure on himself.
Guenther, who came to the organization when Jon Gruden returned in 2018, made it clear, in a media session Thursday morning that he finally has the players to compete and said the Raiders’ “rebuilt the engine” on defense.
The Raiders added defensive tackle Maliek Collins, linebacker Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, and drafted cornerback Damon Arnette in the first round among other moves on defense. Clearly, Guenther thinks it is going to make a huge difference in 2020.
#Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther tells reporters he's excited about changes in his defense. He points out there are no remaining starters left from Raiders' 2018 season opener. "We've rebuilt the engine."— Jon Becker (@JonBecker28) August 13, 2020
Paul Guenther said he finally has the pieces.— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) August 13, 2020
"There were times last year I would look down at my call sheet and say, "No, I can't put this guy in that situation. ... Now, we are much faster, we have good rushers and good coverage guys." #Raiders
In 2019, the Raiders were ranked 23rd in both passing and defense and allowed 26.1 points a game. With an improved roster, a lot is expected from Guenther, who was considered a good defensive coordinator in Cincinnati prior to coming to the Raiders.
In some ways, Guenther’s assertive words on Thursday set himself up. If the defense doesn’t make a big turnaround and doesn’t make the Raiders make a playoff push, Guenther will be on the hot seat.
If a coach says he has a good unit and it doesn’t produce, someone is going to have to take the heat and it will likely be the coach. There’s no more excuses.
Guenther: "Last year, if we had one guy out with an injury, we would bleed to death."— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) August 13, 2020
Guenther said Collins was the team’s best free-agent signing (it has been widely considered Littleton was the top prize) and he compared him to Geno Atkins, who he coached in Cincinnati. Atkins is considered one of best players at his position in the past decade.
Guenther said DT Maliek Collins reminds him of Geno Atkins. "He was our best acquisition of the offseason."— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) August 13, 2020
I love the confidence and expectations Guenther has, but if it doesn’t go as planned, he’s going to have some explaining to do.