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The Oakland Raiders visit Minnesota on Sunday, bringing with them a defensive unit that is ripe for exploitation by an ailing Vikings’ offense.

The Oakland Raiders’ defense is not a good one.

The unit is led by defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, the fellow who replaced Mike Zimmer as Cincinnati’s head defensive man in 2014. Fifth in total defense in Zimmer’s last year there, Gunther held Cinncinati’s high ground there for almost four seasons before moving to Oakland to become Jon Gruden’s DC.

What he found there was a squad of defensive players not assembled by Mike Zimmer, but instead by Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie and defensive coordinator Ken Norton.

A little ‘Raider D’ history: After a 33-8 home loss to the New England Patriots in November, Norton, who was supervising a distinctly below-average bunch, was fired during the 2017 season.

Assistant defensive coach John Pagano took over. Pagano, last the defensive coordinator in San Diego (where the Chargers ended the season with the 29th ranked defense in the league), kept a fairly fairly lousy Raider defense steady through 2017, but found himself out of a job when Jon Gruden came to town, bringing Guenther over from Cincinnati

However, Gruden’s first season ended poorly and with much administrative drama. In 2018, the Raiders ranked 28th in total offense after trading away WR Amani Cooper to Dallas, and dead last in total defense after trading DE Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears.

That 2018 Raider defense gave up 467 points on the season, an astonishing 29.18 points a game.

But then, the great Jon Gruden was never hired for a head job to create a great defense–just ask the fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

New Faces In The Black Hole

Adding defensive back Lamarcus Joyner from the Rams and Cincinnati bad boy LB Vontaze Burfict to the Raiders’ defensive mix in 2019 wouldn’t impress anyone as compensatory for the Kahlil Mack loss, and to date, it has done little  to fortify Guenther’s defense.  

After two games, Oakland is 26th in the NFL in yards allowed and 32nd against the pass, after giving up 443 yards and four touchdowns to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at home last Sunday.

If ever there was a prescription for an ailing pass offense–like the Minnesota Vikings’–this is it.

With a surprisingly efficient rushing attack in tow, the Vikings either show a wrinkle of balance in this offense or be faced with the reality that their quarterback and ‘new’ offensive line have little chance of stacking up against the elite teams in this league.

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