Raiders Defense Has Improved With The Emergence Of A Linebacker That Was No Lock to Make The Team in August

Not much went right for the Raiders in Atlanta this week, but one of the few bright spots in Sunday’s 43-6 loss was the emergence of fourth-year linebacker Nicholas Morrow.

Morrow recorded 10 tackles in the game and added two quarterback pressures. He was targeted five times in coverage and gave up only 11 yards. His Pro Football Focus grade (90.7) was by far the highest on the defense this week and his best grade of the season so far. It’s worth noting that Morrow’s only bad game this year, based on Pro Football Focus analytics, came in week four against the Bills – but the sample size in that game was small as he only played 11 snaps.

Looking ahead, it looks like Morrow might continue to have a full-time role in Paul Guenther’s defense. The entire unit seems to be playing better since the jump in Morrow’s playing time. This week he was on the field for 77 plays, which was more than any other Raider defensive player. Nick Kwiatkoski (61) and Cory Littleton (45) were well behind him in terms of total plays.

Things can change quickly in the NFL, but it looks like Littleton has lost his role to Morrow, which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as Littleton hasn’t played particularly well. Guenther’s defense actually held up against the Falcons (which seems strange to say after giving up 43 points) and Morrow was a big part of the formula. Had the defense not been put in so many bad spots, the Falcons probably would have been good for only 20-25 points.

Looking way too far ahead… Morrow will be a free agent after the 2020 season and Littleton will cost the Raiders more than $19 million in dead money if cut. That means Littleton is all but certain to be back next year and Morrow, for now at least, is headed toward free agency with a resume that is improving just about every week.

twitter: @raidersbeat

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4 thoughts on “Raiders Defense Has Improved With The Emergence Of A Linebacker That Was No Lock to Make The Team in August

  1. I always thought Morrow was a good linebacker so i have no idea why this article contains what it does. Howrver, it doesnt surprise me that Gruden allowed it to become an article being as how he brought in so many players at big contracts that were undeserving and not star players at best complimentary only.

    Look how much money was wasted on huge comtract players most of whom havent played much or stunk it up. With just say Trent Brown’s contract and small portion of one of these other players Raiders could have easily afforded Macks contract and still drafted the players worthy of selection.

    Gruden is horrible and its time media and local Raider Reporters publish the truth as such. Everyone singing the praises of at best a mediocre coach who has done NOTHING in career deserving of his contract or complete control. It took the worst owner in history to enable this craziness as no other team (nor Al himself who is turning in his grave) would have brought in midget ego Chucky and gave him keys to organization.

  2. Defense held up well???….3rd and 5 in the 2nd qtr and Guenther rushes 3 Ryan completes a pass for 17. Another stellar call…Guenther still sucks….only thing worse was the numerous tricky tack penalties.

  3. Littleton can still be used as the strongside linebacker to cover tight ends. I can’t understand why free agent signings like him and Joyner are having so much trouble in their first year on the team. It has to be Guenther’s defensive scheme. It’s too complicated.

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