Expectations are high for the Raiders going into the 2023 season. While no one expects them to challenge the Chiefs in the AFC West, the Raiders need to be a more competitive team and challenge for a playoff spot. But who is under the most pressure to make sure the team is competitive this season?
In a recent article by ESPN, they named one player or coach who is on the hot seat going into the 2023 season. For the Raiders, that person is none other than defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who is entering his second season with the team. Here is what Paul Gutierez had to say about the veteran defensive coordinator:
In 2022, Graham led the No. 28 total defense in the NFL, which finished last in takeaways (13) with an NFL-low six interceptions and 30th in sacks (27) despite the presence of two-time Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby and his 12.5 sacks and league-leading 20 tackles for loss. Improvement in 2023 is needed under Graham.
Especially with Las Vegas using six of its nine draft picks last spring on defensive players, including No. 7 pick edge rusher Tyree Wilson — who was finally activated from the non-football injury list Wednesday after having surgery on his right foot. Plus, the Raiders addressed the secondary with veterans Marcus Peters and Marcus Epps. Yeah, improvement is expected
If the Raiders aren’t significantly better on defense this season, it seems very likely that they will move on from Graham and maybe the entire coaching staff. No one is expecting the defense to be a top-10 unit, but they can’t be one of the worst groups in the league this season.
The Raiders need Graham to get the defense to play near league average and it appears that he finally has the pieces to do so. If he can’t get them there in 2023, expect some serious changes next offseason.