Another week, another frustrating loss for the Las Vegas Raiders. It seems like 17-point leads are the kiss of death for the Silver and Black. It’s tough to put that burden all on the players’ backs, but the Pro Football Focus grades from the game against Jacksonville suggest that the players certainly have to carry some of it. And so far, the defense has been abysmal. Somehow, the 2022 Raiders’ defense is worse than previous years. Outside of Maxx Crosby, there is not a whole lot to be excited about.
If we were giving out grades in school for these PFF grades, only two players would have passed. And I recognize that PFF scores are not the be-all and end-all. You could argue that their grading system appears to be a random number generator at times. But this week, it seems like their number generator did a good job. The Raiders are going to have to figure something out on defense if they want to turn this ship around. But first, let’s take a look at the PFF grades from the Jaguars game.
Maxx Crosby – 88.8
At least there’s some semblance of consistency on this defense. Crosby’s motor is all go, every game, no matter what. Although he hasn’t had a sack since the Chiefs game, Crosby has still made his presence felt in every game. One could argue that Crosby has recently been shut down in the sacks column, which has shifted the spotlight onto him. His running mate, Chandler Jones, has done absolutely nothing. However, even with No. 98 getting all of the focus, he is still producing. Crosby is one of the only players on either side of the ball who should be untouchable after this season.
Neil Farrell – 76.9
How about a rookie showing up with the second-highest grade on this list? Farrell has begun to get some reps in a limited capacity, but he is clearly making the most of them. According to Pro Football Reference, Farrell has racked up the most tackles in his young career with three, as well as a tackle for loss. It may not appear to be much, but his presence in the middle was felt throughout the game on Sunday. And that is not something the Raiders can say so far about this season. Also, with the departure of Johnathan Hankins, somebody needed to step up. Might it be Farrell?
Bilal Nichols – 68.4
You might have the third-highest grade, but anything below a 70 was still not a passing grade (at least in my schools). And the NFL is not forgiving. Nichols did, however, play a pretty solid game in his snaps on Sunday. Also, it’s nice to see a free agent addition actually contributing in some way. Nichols teamed up with Farrell to maybe bring some hope for the future of the Raiders’ front four on defense. And Raider Nation knows that the front line has been terrible for years. If Nichols and Farrell can continue this trend, maybe they can build on something there.
Matthew Butler – 67.8
Seeing three straight defensive linemen makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy. Butler is also another rookie, being picked in the fifth round of the 2022 draft. So, there is reason for hope for Raider Nation. Maybe not for this season, but maybe for the future? And since we are basically already putting this season in the past, it is a good start for a team that clearly needs to rebuild.
Johnathan Abram – 65.6
Well, this is a strange position. The Raiders’ highest-graded secondary player is waived before they even get back on the practice field. However, it was probably Abram’s time to go. He was a problem in coverage more than not, and being a safety, that’s most of the job. But it’s pretty comical and right on par for the Raiders to cut a player two days after they post a top-five defensive grade. Nonetheless, it looks like Duron Harmon and Tre’von Moehrig are going to have to lock down the back end of the secondary.
Lowest Five Defensive Grades
Given Raider Nation’s dissatisfaction with this team, we should look at the lowest grades. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but four of the lowest five players were secondary players and linebackers. The biggest surprise is also that the starting safeties had two of the three lowest grades, and neither broke a grade of 60. The list goes: Blake Martinez 32.1, Amik Robertson 35.1, Tre’von Moehrig 40.9, Andrew Billings 59.3, and Duron Harmon 59.6. Some of those scores are absolutely abysmal. My dad would have whooped my *ss if I scored a 32.1 on any test I ever took. However, it is not surprising that these grades are here. The defense has been horrendous. So far, it seems like Abram was a scapegoat, but I’m not sure that is enough of an answer for this defensive problem.
The Raiders need to figure something out with this defense. For a defensive coordinator like Patrick Graham, who has head coaching aspirations, this is not a good look on his resume. The Raiders are pretty much out of the 2022 season, barring an absolute miracle. It is time to start playing more rookies and young guns and preparing for the future. Speaking of resumes, the veterans better start updating theirs; I feel a shakeup coming in the autumn wind.
*Top Photo: Las Vegas Review-Journal