Las Vegas Raiders’ new head coach, Josh McDaniels, has been hard at work filling in his staff. On Friday, he took another step in the right direction by hiring Patrick Graham to be the Raiders’ defensive coordinator.
This is the Raiders’ third defensive coordinator in as many seasons, so what makes Graham different?
Patrick Graham comes as one of the most respected hires the Raiders have made in years. Graham will be joining the Silver and Black after spending the previous two seasons in New York. He served as the New York Football Giants defensive coordinator since 2020 after time in Miami and New England.
Graham began his career in the NFL in New England. He served as a defensive coaching assistant and linebackers coach before beginning his first stint in New York in 2016. Graham was the Giants defensive line coach for two seasons. After leaving New York, Graham spent time as the Green Bay Packers run game coordinator and the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator.
In 2020, he returned to the Giants as their assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Now, the Giants have a new coaching regime giving Graham the opportunity to pursue another position. Graham has spent time with McDaniels in New England, and the two have tremendous respect for one another.
What He Brings to Las Vegas
Graham is well known for his ability to change his defensive scheme any given week. Most defensive coordinators will commit to a 3-4 lineup, or a 4-3 lineup all year depending on their coaching strategies. Graham doesn’t like to commit to one scheme and believes that each opponent should be treated differently.
“The scheme will be reflective of the people and what’s needed for that game plan, but you can anticipate it being multiple (schemes)… People ask 4-3, 3-4, I say ‘yes’… you can say 2-4, yes, 3-3-5, yes. I mean however you want to rearrange the front seven, the whole 11, yes.” Graham said in an interview in 2021.
Graham’s strategy is likely to bring some much-needed unpredictability to the Raiders’ defense.
Despite the Giant’s ending with an unfortunate 4-13 record, their Graham-led defense carried the team. They were on the field most of the game each week but ended with one of the best red zone defenses in the league. The Giants defense gave up a touchdown on just 52% of the time. For comparison, the Raiders’ defense ended last in the league in red zone defense, giving up a touchdown 77% of the time.
Graham’s addition to the Raiders comes highly praised by analysts across the league. As the team gets adjusted to their new coaching staff during offseason workouts, we are sure to find out how Graham’s strategies fit in Las Vegas.
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