The Las Vegas Raiders are 6-4 and currently hold the 7th seed in the AFC playoff picture.
Coach Gruden’s team has proven it can score points when QB Derek Carr is playing well.
But the glaring deficiencies on defense are becoming more obvious each week.
As of right now, the Las Vegas Raiders built a playoff offense and a mini-camp defense.
— Full Press Raiders (@FPC_Raiders) November 23, 2020
In Week 11 against the Chiefs, the Raiders couldn’t contain Mahomes for four quarters (not an easy task for a top-ranked defense), and they didn’t have an answer for how to defend against TE Travis Kelce.
With that being said, Alex Ballantine of Bleacher Report offered suggestions via free agent signings that could help the Raiders ASAP.
1. Earl Thomas, Safety
The Ravens released Thomas for personal reasons during the preseason.
He is regarded as the most talented free agent out there, and no team has signed him yet.
Earl Thomas is an excellent performer on the field, but he is definitely a risk off-the-field.
Recall that the Ravens released him for getting into a fight with a teammate (safety Chuck Clark) at practice.
Thomas worked out for the Texans months ago and was believed to be close to signing a deal with the Texans.
Yet nothing happened.
“Earl Thomas was released by the Baltimore Ravens for reasons that had much more to do with chemistry than performance. The 31-year-old showed few signs of aging on the field with the Ravens and was consistent in coverage. His ability to play both strong and free safety alignments would make him the perfect third safety on the field.”
2. Marcell Dareus, DT
Dareus was sidelined with injury in Week 4 of 2019 which required core muscle surgery.
During 2018, he started in 15 games and had two quarterback hits, one sack, one forced fumble, and one safety.
He is 30 years old; his prime may be behind him, but he still possesses the skills to be aggressive against the running game and can pressure the quarterback.
“Dareus could be a useful run-stuffer to close out the season and potentially play a bigger role if he proves worthy come playoff time.”
Marcell Dareus has been a free agent since February, and there have been rumors of teams interested, most notably Seattle.
As with Earl Thomas, nothing has materialized, and Marcell Dareus has been sitting home waiting for a call from an NFL team all season.
Also looking at DT (need depth): a name to watch: Marcell Dareus. https://t.co/SD7itJ0OEn
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 7, 2020
Coach Gruden On His Defense
Gruden is not blind to his defense’s deficiencies.
After the Kansas City loss, Gruden said:
“We didn’t play well enough on defense. And we can make a lot of excuses and legitimate excuses for that. We’re missing some key players. We have a young secondary. We had guys that didn’t practice. We played the world champions coming off a bye week. But we, I say we, me included, we gave up 36 first downs and we didn’t get it done. We’ve got to play a lot better. Because Atlanta, the team we’re about to play, is capable of doing the same thing.”
While Gruden hasn’t pointed fingers at individual players or positions that could improve, it will be interesting to see if he and the Raiders secure free agent help to fix some of their defensive woes as they enter the final stretch of the 2020 season.