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Paul Guenther breaks down Raiders’ defensive keys ahead of Saints MNF game

Raiders’ defensive coordinator loved having Johnathan Abram back

Las Vegas Raiders v Carolina Panthers
Johnathan Abram
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

On Friday, Raiders’ defensive coordinator Paul Guenther addressed some key topics about his unit’s performance in a Week 1 win over Carolina — and what to expect in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.

Here are some highlights:

On a poor performance by his pass-rushers against the Panthers:
“It just wasn’t good enough. Not what I anticipated, not what I saw on the practice field. So, that was a big point of emphasis this week for us to get that back on track.”

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Carolina Panthers
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

On positives from the Carolina game:
“I just felt like, we had somewhat of an idea of what the offense was going to be but we had to get a feel of what they were trying to accomplish with the personnel groupings and those types of things. As the game went on we started to settle in. We gave up a critical third-and-long play, which we were off in the coverage. We had a lot of different guys in there.

Obviously, we can’t give up a double move in a ball game like that. That’s just something that [Damon] Arnette’s got to learn from as a young player. He’s got to stay on top of the route, understand the situation, so I was a little bit disappointed in the final score. I always preach to them that scoring defense is important. So, we have to keep them out of the end zone and if they’re going to score, they have to go through our goal line defense.”

On the return of second-year safety Johnathan Abram, who missed all but one game last season:
“Boy, I love having him on the field because he can run around and hit. He’s a great blitzer, great communicator and he brings a lot of energy. I think, going into last week’s game, we got out there for the ceremonies and everything before the game and we come running out, it was just a weird feeling with an empty stadium. It was almost like a J.V. high school football game playing in a big stadium.

So, I think guys like that that bring energy to it, I think guys understand what the environment is going to be like without the fans in there. So, he’s a guy that brings juice to the field for us.”

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas
Chuck Cook -USA TODAY Sports

On the likelihood of the Saints not having star receiver Michael Thomas available Monday night:
“Obviously, he’s a great player. We don’t know if he’s playing or not, but they’ll utilize guys that can do the things he does. Maybe you have two or three guys in his spot or wherever he may line up. We’ll just have to wait until Monday night to see how they adjust without him if he’s not in the lineup for them.”