The defense is a big topic this week in the weekly Raiders mailbag. Fans are understandably anxious about a unit that is surrendering the second-most points in the NFL.
With coach Jon Gruden hinting at changes, the question becomes what can the Raiders do to improve the defense and how quickly can it be done?
MC (@The509Raider): Chance we make a trade deadline addition? Put a percent on it.
Vincent Bonsignore: There is no question the Raiders are looking at ways to get better, but the question always comes down to cost vs. reward, and how much salary the Raiders are able or willing to take on?
The latter could loom large, especially given how much the Raiders already are spending while not having any ticket revenue because of their decision to not allow fans into Allegiant Stadium this season.
I’d say at this point the chances for a trade are 40-60.
Imperfect Mike (@Imperfect Mike):How much influence does/will Rod Marinelli have on the new defensive scheme?
If there was one free agent that you would pick up right now, who would it be?
Who is a player that you would trade for?
VB: Certainly Rod Marinelli has a prominent seat at that table. But he’s also respectful of the current pecking order, and he’s been around long enough to understand the defensive chain of command starts with Paul Guenther and that he, as the defensive line coach, can provide suggestions while deferring to his boss on decisions.
I’d pick up a proven, disruptive interior defensive lineman.
I’d trade for a defensive end with a proven track record of getting to the quarterback who also can play the run.
Dylan (@RaiderDylan): When do we expect Damon Arnette, Bryan Edwards and Richie Incognito back in the lineup?
VB: Bryan Edwards was at practice this week, but is being classified as doubtful for Sunday. Good sign, though, that he was on the field. It means the ankle is getting better and he is closing in on a return. Next week against the Chargers looks good.
As Jon Gruden alluded to, Arnette is back in the building — meaning he’s recovered from COVID-19 — and beginning the process of getting back. Once he is allowed to practice, the Raiders have 21 days to decide whether to activate him to the roster or keep him on injured reserve. That does not mean they have to take all 21 days. Two more weeks seems like a reasonable estimation.
With Incongnito, Gruden says there’s a good chance he’ll at least be back at practice within a week or so.
Justin Searway (@JSearway): What’s going to happen to Nelson Agholor’s snaps when Bryan Edwards is healthy?
VB: Obviously Agholor has been a standout in place of Edwards. That is a good thing. Edwards does not need to be rushed back. Even when he does return, the Raiders will have the luxury of easing him back into action.
That said, the Raiders have a balancing act on their hands, trying to even out opportunities for Agholor and Edwards. That could also cut into Hunter Renfrow’s snaps, as Agholor plays out of the slot, too.
Asmodai (@imalveezy): Where is the disconnect between the defensive coaching and the players?
VB: It really just seems more like players not playing up to expectations and the staff still figuring out the best way to utilize a lot of new additions. That takes time. But it’s getting to the point where the Raiders need to step up individually and understand as a staff the best way to utilize players.
Dana Wagner (@DanaNews3LV): Why is Cory Littleton off to a slow start? Scheme? Effort? Talent?
VB: He just isn’t playing as well as he has in the past. Could it be the scheme change going from a 3-4 to a 4-3? Probably, yes. But he’s too good to let that be the difference between him having an impact or not. The talent and effort are there.
Billy (@onlinebilly): Will Henry Ruggs ever be a high volume receiver?
VB: It seems as if there’s multiple factors standing in the way of this happening (e.g. Carr spreading the ball around, Gruden’s offense, etc.)
Black Widow (@BlackWidowR8R): What changes do you expect Paul Guenther to make this week? He definitely seems to be in hot water, especially with the fans.
VB: More aggressiveness in terms of blitzes and stunts. Moving guys around more on the defensive line.