Welcome to the renewed Raider Ramble Roundtable where some of the Ramble’s finest will bring you their thoughts on all the rumblings, rumors, stats, and even fake news.
We may be eight weeks into the season but it’s never too late to pick the minds of the Ramble crew. This week we have:
and me – @sik0simmons
What is one trade rumor you hope is true?
Ray: Leonard Williams to the Raiders. The “Big Cat” made it known he wanted to be a Raider coming out of USC and he’d bring much-needed passion and energy to a defensive line that needs it. Of course, where you play the 6-foot-5, 302 pound Williams is the question. He’s currently a defensive end in the Jets’ 3-4 alignment and the Raiders deploy a 4-3 base set. Does he move inside to tackle alongside Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall? Or does he stick at end?
Mario: Well it’s wishful thinking to right now but if the Raiders would land Leonard Williams that’d be pretty incredible. However he’d be a rental and I just don’t see Gruden & Mayock giving up draft capital for a lease.
AJ: One trade rumor I like more than most is the Jaguars putting defensive end Yannick Ngakoue on the block. The same guy who intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown last week. He’s only 24 years old. The Raiders can pay him what he wants and dramatically improve their pass rush. If the Raiders can get him with their three third round picks they have in 2020, they should pounce.
Chris: Honestly I think i’m in the minority here but I would rather the Raiders stand pat this trade deadline. While the team is more “solid” than “good” I think it would be a mistake to go all in for a playoff berth this year. To me it seems that Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are building long term so while not a room, bowing out would be my preferred route this deadline.
What is the Best/Worst Unit?
Best Unit: Tight Ends
Worst Unit: Secondary
Best unit by far has been the tight end group. I don’t recall a time where I was this genuinely excited to see what a tight end duo was going to do week to week for the Raiders. If this keeps up, I’d be hard pressed to believe we might have our own Gronk/Hernandez tandem. Meanwhile, the secondary has just been a disappointment all around. Joyner has been a bust, there I said it.
Best Unit: Tight Ends
Worst Unit: Entire Defense
I was initially going to say the offensive line, but went with the tight ends. Here’s why: The trio of Darren Waller, Foster Moreau and Derek Carrier account for 95 of the team’s 142 receptions, 683 of the team’s total 1,446 yards, and four of the total nine touchdowns. Each can catch and block (impressive for converted wide receivers Waller and Carrier) allowing Gruden to get very creative. The worst unit, by far, is the entire defense. None of the groups (line, linebacker or secondary) compliment each other when defending the pass and it shows.
Best Unit: Offensive Line
Worst Unit: Defensive Line
The Raiders best unit so far is their offensive line. Heading into Houston, it’ll be the first time the Raiders have all five starters play together this year, which speaks volume about the depth as well as the their coach Tom Cable. I was wrong about Cable, the guy has really got this line to play excellent ball and keep Carr clean. Per football outsiders the Raiders offensive line ranks 4th in run blocking and 2nd in pass protection, with only 8 sacks given up (tied for 3rd least in the league). Not too shabby at all.
The worst Raiders unit is the defensive line. Although they do rank 7th against the run
, they are not getting to the quarterback. Their pass rush rank is 22nd with only 10 sacks, which is downright awful. They have 1st and 2nd year players across their line and it shows.
Best Unit: Head Coach / Offensive Coaching Staff
Worst Unit: Cornerbacks
While not an on-field unit, the coaching staff has been doing a helluva job with game planning and maximizing potential. We have seen the Raiders take players who have only been on the team for a week and turn them into key cogs in the offensive machine. Carr’s numbers, while not world beating, belie a level of competence and efficiency that has been absent since that fateful 2016 year. Though their competency has not always finished in wins, for the first time in a decade the Raiders seem to have a coaching advantage most weeks (even if only on offense).
That being said the secondary, specifically Cornerbacks Gareon Conley (so long) and Lamarcus Joyner have been abysmal. Prior to his being traded Conley had already allowed five interceptions and consistently torched, even by back ups. Joyner on the other hand has been a net negative allowing a 120.7 passer rating despite his being the prized defensive acquisition. No one player is going to fix this unit which is likely why the Raiders kept their price down on the pursuit of All-Pro Jalen Ramsay.
AJ: Hard to predict with Jacobs hurt because if the Raiders fall behind by more than 14 into the 2nd quarter they may shut him down. I think Deshaun Watson hits Kenny Stills for a bomb to pull away in the 4th and the Raiders head home to face the Lions with a 3-4 record.
Chris: Personally I think the Raiders are a better match up than anyone could have expected back in September. This has just as much to do with the strides they’ve made on offense as how bad the Texans secondary has been all season. With a ground and pound offense, I expect the silver and black to sit on the ball and keep Watson on the sidelines for the last drive of the game.
Ray: Gruden will have the offense humming and the Texans will have a miserable go at stopping Josh Jacobs and the tight ends.
The Raiders will hold a lead like it had against the Bears, and while the Texans make noise and claw back, the defense plays inspired by the passing of the great Willie Brown and holds Houston off. A field goal by Daniel Carlson proves the difference.
I see the running game continuing to steam roll in Houston behind Josh Jacobs and Alec Ingold. Let’s go with a conservative prediction.