Midseason And Finally Home, Raiders Still In The Hunt

What we are doing is taking a two-part look at the Oakland Raiders offense and defense so we can establish where they’ve been and where they can go.

When the 2019 Raiders schedule came out, it challenged them with one of the most insane travel schedules ever created. Including the preseason game against the Packers in Winnipeg, Canada, the London Game against the Bears, the Raiders have played in three different countries on two different continents. After opening the season splitting a two game homestand 1-1, the Raiders were subjected to five straight Eastern time zone 1pm start times in a row.

Where the Raiders stand

Through it all the Raiders are 3-4 and exactly a game and a half behind the Kansas City Chiefs with a remaining head-to-head matchup at Arrowhead. They are 2nd in the AFC West and positioned to challenge for the division, if they can solve defensive woes while sitting at ninth in the AFC overall. A half-game back of Jacksonville and Tennessee, while being tied with the Steelers. Last weeks loss to Houston bumped them down a game and a half to the Texans and lost them the tiebreaker.

Gruden’s Grinders

Offensively, the Raiders offensive line is a force. With only having the starting offensive line playing a grand total of 20 minutes together, line coach Tom Cable’s unit hasn’t allowed a sack in the last four games and only eight on the season as a whole. A total which places them second in the league.

As a whole, the Raiders offense is 22nd in total points scored (151) and are averaging 21.57 points per game. They are ranked 19th in total yards (2603), 27th in total plays (422), 26th in turnovers lost (8), 25th in first downs (137), 19th in passing yards (1683), t-10 4th quarter comebacks (1) and game winning drives (1).

Josh Jacobs has been the total package and a steal at pick #24. A viable candidate for offensive rookie of the year, his combination of power, elusiveness, and vision has got him carrying the Raiders to victory this season. Jacobs is ranked 6th in the league in rushing (620 yards), 11th in carries with (124), 13th in rushing touchdowns (4), and 9th in first down runs (30). Most importantly, he has maintained ball security with a bum shoulder and elbow. Not just a rusher, the 11 passes for 102 yards he’s caught has him as the Raiders fourth leading pass catcher.

An unsung hero in any offense, the fullback is a player who is usually forgotten about. Since taking over the starting fullback job, Alec Ingold has been great at doing the dirty work and leading the way for Jacobs. The two rookies work well in unison and the best block we’ve seen has to be the diving pile block Ingold made so Jacobs could score behind him against the Bears.

Darren Waller is having a Pro Bowl level year at tight end. Gruden has called the tight end corps the lifeblood of his offense and Waller has earned the new contract extension he signed. Waller is 13th in the league with total receptions (46) but 2nd amongst all tight ends. His 496 receiving yards place him 3rd amongst tight ends, his 70.9 yards per game average ranks 4th amongst tight ends, and three receiving touchdowns have him T-3rd amongst tight ends.

Quarterback Derek Carr is having a season which has gotten the fanbase all riled up and split on his production. His overall numbers aren’t special, but he’s working with a receiving corps that has been far from impactful and consistent. Carr is ranked 19th in passing yards (1695), 16th in completions (158), 21st in attempts (219), T-1st with Kirk Cousins at completion percentage (72.1%), 16th in Touchdown passes (11) and his four interceptions are t-17th most in the league.

Foster Moreau has been a breath of fresh air and a welcome surprise. Widely expected to be just a blocking tight end, he has turned heads with his hands and athleticism. Moreau has caught 13 of his 16 targets for 131 yards and two TDs.

The Wild ride out Wide

The wideout position has been a turnstile, Trevor Davis since being traded for has produced three rushes for 73 yards and one TD, seven catches on eight attempts for 83 yards. Davis has missed only one ball thrown his way including starting off the season in Green Bay. Zay Jones was also traded for and has made one appearance catching two passes for 27 yards.

Tyrell Williams has been battling health issues all season long, whether it be illness or his plantar fasciitis. In the five games he’s appeared in he has scored once in all five. He’s caught 20 of the 30 passes thrown his way for 307 yards. He is the Raiders receiving corps leader in catches, yards, and touchdowns.

Raise your hand if you had the only Raider receiver starting/playing in all seven games this season as Hunter Renfrow. Especially if you had him as the Raiders second “leading” receiver. “Third and Renfrow” has caught 18 of 30 passes for 203 yards and one TD.  While one would hope that the only receiver available to Carr all season long would have established more of a rapport with his quarterback.

Keelan Doss, despite great fanfare and a feel good story, hasn’t quite shown it on the field. In five games he has six catches on eight attempts for 79 yards.

Midseason Assessment

The Raiders squander a lot of opportunities as scoring inside the redzone continues to be a problem when deviating from the running game. Jacobs has been a tremendous revelation and a huge shot in the arm, behind Jacobs there simply has been negligible production from his backups. Together they have rushed 48 times for 183 yards and one TD, a mere 3.8 yards per carry. With a combined 20 catches for 137 yards and no touchdowns.

In order for the Raiders to make any type of playoff worthy push they flat out are going to need more availability, consistency, and overall production from their playmakers. Waller, Moreau, Jones, Williams, Renfrow, and Davis should be the weapons Carr will have at his disposal for the remainder of the year. Gaining familiarity and comfort with these players is only going to help take the defenders out of the box.

Carr isn’t perfect, but unfortunately, he’s going to have to be. On the season, Carr has accounted for all eight of the Raiders offensive turnovers, four interceptions and four fumbles. Carr has all the time in the world to throw the football, his line is probably in competition for being one of, if not, the best in the league.

In a pass happy league with the second-best pass protecting line in the league the Raiders need better results. Not a slight on Carr nor on his receivers, simply stating a fact. The Raiders have been in some very favorable matchups offensively against good teams and haven’t produced. Moving forward they need to exploit all opportunities.

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