Down three, with thirty seconds left in the fourth quarter of Sunday Night’s game, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, began scrambling to his right. With at least 15 yards of green ahead of him, a run would resolve in a first down at the very least. Las Vegas Raiders second-year safety, Johnathan Abram rushed towards him, intent on stopping him in his tracks. Suddenly, Mahomes cocked his arm and threw the ball, sailing over Abram’s shoulders, into the waiting arms of a wide-open Travis Kelce… standing in Abram’s designated zone.
This would ultimately be the game-winning score, leaving the charismatic young safety to be the center of a lot of Raider Nation’s scorn this week. While his play may have ultimately lost the game, fans of the silver and black should give number 24 a break.
Raider Nation Should Be Patient With Johnathan Abram
Four Quarters > One Play
While the Travis Kelce touchdown is the exclamation point at the end of the AFC West shootout, the game was four quarters long. There were a number of things the Raiders could’ve done differently and won. Nelson Agholor and Alec Ingold both had butterfingers, Jon Gruden earned a personal foul that cost the team a shot at fourth and one on the goal-line, and even without that throw, Mahomes had well over 300 yards passing.
Ideally, Abram stays in his zone. But even if he does, Mahomes eventually slides and clocks it. The Chiefs end up with another shot at the endzone, and you’re giving Mahomes an even smaller field to work with.
Believe it or not, but the performance of a player is equally dependent on his coach. Paul Guenther is an objectively bad defensive coordinator, and it’s not surprising that he hasn’t been able to get the best out of Johnathan Abram considering he’s also failed to make Cory Littleton replicate his Los Angeles success or turn Clelin Ferrell into a stable pass rusher.
I shouldn’t have to fight very hard to prove my point. The best his Raider defenses have ever ranked in any category was 19th. Maxx Crosby and Trayvon Mullen are exceptions, not the rule.
Sunday night against Kansas City was Johnathan Abram’s tenth career start in the NFL. People seem to forget that because his personality makes so much noise, Abram missed most of his rookie year, and has had some shaky attendance this year.
Also, in case anyone forgot, Abram didn’t get to practice this week. Someone that is essentially a rookie, with a dreadful defensive coordinator, on one day of practice, is going to make a mistake or two, and honestly, that should go without saying.
Abram provides a swagger and physicality that this Raiders defense has been missing for years. Yeah, his play needs to be cleaned up, but maybe give him more than 10 games before you condemn him.