Las Vegas Raiders defense
(AP Photo/David Becker)

The Las Vegas Raiders Defense Bends, And Then Breaks

Through six games, the Las Vegas Raiders offense has proven effective at moving the football and scoring. The other side of the ball, however, has fallen short.

A common philosophy employed by defenses throughout the league involves the concept of bending, but not breaking. Defensive coordinators operating under this mindset are fine giving up yardage, as long as points are not the consequence. Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is missing the latter part of that strategy.

In his third year as defensive coordinator for Las Vegas, Guenther has guarded heavily against the big plays this year. Unfortunately, results are not better for the defense. This is because big chunk plays by opposing offenses have been replaced by methodical, short plays that end up in points.

The Raiders are allowing 6.2 yards per opposing offensive play. Only Atlanta and Jacksonville are allowing more. Also, the team has only forced three turnovers, tied for fewest in the league. Allowing a first down every two plays and not securing turnovers has made the Las Vegas Raiders’ defense a prime target for teams throughout the league.

Paul Guenther has been brilliant at disguising his plays. However, in blanketing the field’s deep part, he leaves wide-open spaces in the mid-range. Other than Cory Littleton, no linebacker can keep up with tight ends and receivers in this part of the field. That causes defensive bending.

After the defense bends long enough, it breaks. 51% of opposing offensive drives have resulted in scoring. For the sake of comparison, the Miami Dolphins have nearly half of that percentage. They are currently sitting at the same winning percentage as the Raiders, despite having significantly weaker offensive production.

Until the Las Vegas Raiders’ defense stops breaking, the team can aspire to accomplish only so much. The offense is precisely where it should be; it is time for the defense to do their part.