Are the Raiders actually improved on defense or is it a mirage?

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One of the biggest additions the Raiders made this offseason was hiring defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. The team finally has a coordinator on that side of the ball that can coach up talent and a scheme that can pressure and confuse quarterbacks.

Through two games, the defense has been outstanding. They’ve been able to limit Lamar Jackson and Ben Roethlisberger. But more importantly, they’ve been able to create turnovers and get stops when they need them. That’s something that Raiders’ fans just aren’t used to seeing.

But is the defense for real or is it just a mirage? In a recent article by ESPN and their 32 beat writers, they listed each team’s biggest surprise after two weeks. For the Raiders, it is their defense. Here is what senior writer Paul Gutierrez had to say about the unit:

“Anything north of competent would have been a massive improvement for the Raiders. And Las Vegas adding a disruptive pass rush — two sacks of Lamar Jackson by DE Maxx Crosby in the opener, two more of Ben Roethlisberger by DT Solomon Thomas — in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme has been key, and showing success against versatile foes portends for continued success, so long as the injury bug stays away.”

When healthy, the Raiders should have a capable defense. However, that’s been the bigger issue so far. The team has lost multiple defensive linemen due to injury and a few won’t return this season. Their depth is going to be tested this season, but that is why having a defensive coordinator like Bradley is so vital.

While it’s too early to say for sure, but it does appear the Raiders have a good defense. And that’s something we all weren’t expecting just a few months ago. If they can continue to play this week, the Las Vegas Raiders will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

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