Josh McDaniels’ coaching staff with the Las Vegas Raiders is starting to come together. The team has already decided to keep Edgar Bennett as wide receivers coach and hire Bo Hardegree as quarterbacks coach. The big question was who the team might choose to be the defensive coordinator. Gus Bradley did a solid job getting the Raiders defense in a better spot this year but it looks like the team has decided to move on.
According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Las Vegas has hired New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
The Giants were actually hoping to keep Graham on staff despite having a chance at head coach. The Pittsburgh Steelers were also showing interest in the coach for their defensive coordinator opening. He’s a big get for the Raiders as he’s considered one of the best young defensive minds in the NFL.
This will be Graham’s third defensive coordinator job as he served the same role with the Miami Dolphins in 2019. He’s also worked with McDaniels on the New England Patriots from 2012 to 2015. In 2021, Graham’s defense ranked 23rd in points allowed and 21 in yards allowed. Though the numbers weren’t great, opinions on the coach are very high.
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Graham Will Have a Lot of Responsibility With Raiders
Nailing the defensive coordinator hire was going to be very important for the Raiders considering McDaniels will be putting a lot of focus on offense. Graham will essentially be the head coach of the defense. Luckily, he inherits some really good talent.
Maxx Crosby, Trevon Moehrig, Yannick Ngakoue and Denzel Perryman are all great pieces to work with. The Raiders will likely invest heavily in more defensive pieces in the draft and free agency. They’ll give Graham all the pieces he needs to work with. Bradley did a good job and has long been one of the best defensive minds in the NFL. Graham will have some big shoes to fill.
Big Changes for the Defense
Graham represents big changes for the Raiders defense. His style is vastly different than Bradley’s. Las Vegas blitzed the least amount of any team in the NFL. While Graham isn’t a huge blitzer, the Giants had the 12th most blitzes in the league last season. The Raiders will be blitzing a lot more in 2022.
Also, Graham isn’t afraid to operate in the 3-4 but McDaniels has mentioned that most defenses are run from the nickel these days. With such big changes to the scheme, there will naturally be changes to the personnel. A lot of the Raiders players brought in last offseason had connections to Bradley. Casey Hayward, Darius Philon, K.J. Wright and more all followed the coach to Las Vegas and most of them are free agents. The Raiders would be wise to keep Hayward as he was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL last season. Other than that, Graham will likely want to bring in a lot of his own guys.