Perhaps, if the Raiders defense were as staunch as Raider Nation is in its defense of quarterback Derek Carr, opponents wouldn’t be able to so easily slice the team like a hot knife through room temperature butter.
After another auspicious start to the year, I wanted to dig up some numbers when it comes to the Raiders defense. And what I found wasn’t surprising: The Raiders defense has been truly offensive for a long time.
(Note: If you haven’t visited pro-football-reference.com, do give it a look-see).
The Raiders haven’t been in the top 10 in both points and yards allowed since 1996 when the team was 8th in both categories. That squad finished 7-9, however. The 1990 Los Angeles Raiders sported the 7th and 4th ranked defense in terms of points and yards allowed and finished 12-4.
What about the Raiders most successful season (2002 that ended with an atrocious Super Bowl loss to Jon Gruden’s Tampa squad) since the 1983 Super Bowl year, you ask?
That team was 6th and 11th in points and yards given up. The flip side of that coin was the Bill Callahan led (and Gruden designed) offense was 2nd and 1st in points scored and yards accumulated.
Since then … yuck.
Gruden’s 2018 squad was the worst team in the league in points allowed and was 26th in yards yielded. Fortunately for the Raiders, 2019 has showcased some really awful performances by other teams three games in. Oakland is 23rd and 25th in points and yards allowed so far.
We saw what Patrick Mahomes and his receiving group did against Paul Guenther’s secondary two Sundays ago and I got curious: Exactly how many long touchdowns have the Raiders given up?
So I dove in and looked at the previous years and counted the number of TDs (20 yards and over) the Raiders allowed and here’s what you get:
(Note: These are offensive scores given up that are 20 yards or more. There have been pick 6s and fumble returns in that same category, but I omitted those).
- The 2012-14 seasons under Dennis Allen/Tony Sparano yielded 42 of said scores in 48 games.
- The 2015-17 seasons under Jack Del Rio allowed 29 TDs of that variety in 48 games.
Compare that to the Gruden/Guenther era we’re in:
- Over the course of a full season and three games, the Raiders yield 15 TDs of 20 yards or more. That’s in 19 games.
Making matters worse for Gruden is the -177 point differential in 2018 (290 points scored to 467 allowed), is the third worst since the Raiders returned to the Oakland.
Only the 2014 Raiders (-199) and the 2009 squad (-182) had worst differentials. In case you were curious, the all-time lopsided differential was in 1961 when the Raiders were in the AFL (-221).
Whether it’s lack of talent or proper coaching, scheme or culture, the Raiders haven’t been the paragon for sound defensive play.
Of course, offense and defense go hand-in-hand and it’s not shocking to see the Raiders lackadaisical defensive performance coincides with impotent offense. From 2000-02, Oakland was in the top 10 in points scored and yards gained and the defenses performed much better with the unit ranking no lower than 19th and 18th in points and yards given up.
Remember when Gruden lamented that starting short of their own 25 yard line makes life tough for the Raiders offense. Through three games, Oakland’s average starting position is 25.4. Opponents sport a 25.7 mark.
His notion has credence, however. The 2016 Raiders that finished 12-4 showcases both an opportunistic offense and defense and that squad’s average starting position was 31.8 to opponent’s 25.2.