Oakland Raiders Film Room: NYJ at OAK

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Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes (18) is congratulated by Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) after catching a touchdown against the New York Jets in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s obvious to anyone watching exactly why the Oakland Raiders have found their groove. Derek Carr took his sleeves off. End of story. Well, not exactly. The bottom line is that the Raiders have arrived and they are turning heads nationwide. The scrappy group of inexperienced individual players has been replaced by a unified team, playing with purpose, poise, and the passion of a group that believes it can beat anyone in the league. And every week, a new aspect of this team improves, with stars and role players stepping up to make it happen.

Week 8’s game against the New York Jets was a big test for the Oakland Raiders. Now in the “tougher part” of the schedule, the Raiders were expected to slow down quite a bit and stack up some losses. Instead the opposite has happened, the Raiders are getting better. Now they are 5th overall in the AFC with only three games left against teams currently over .500.

Not only are the Raiders 4-2 in their last six games, they’ve lost those two games by a combined 8 points. Meanwhile each of their wins has been by an increasingly greater amount, concluding with the most recent 14 point victory against one the NFL’s top 5 defenses. As a matter of fact, the Raiders are 4-3 despite having already played 3 of the top 6 teams in the league according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). It’s looking more like that Cincinnati game was the fluke, and the rest is the real deal.

Speaking of statistical measures, many of the advanced metrics now shine brightly upon our Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are currently sitting at 8th in overall DVOA, which is even higher than the ESPN Power Ranking of 9th. The Raiders offense ranks 5th in DVOA while the defense is holding steady at 15th (still above average). Derek Carr is ranked as a Top 10 quarterback by several metrics. Football Outsiders has Carr ranked at 4th in both DYAR and DVOA (DYAR means a QB with more total value, DVOA means a QB with more value per play) while Pro Football Focus has Carr listed as their 7th best quarterback entering Week 9 – which is a huge jump from his bottom of the league PFF grade at the end of last season.

Most importantly, the rest of the team is coming along with Carr. We’re coming to expect superior performances from Derek Carr and Khalil Mack, but it’s the supplemental role players who have really filled in with tough and elevated play to raise this team to a potential playoff contender. Standouts this week include DL Denico Autry, LB Malcolm Smith, WR Andre Holmes, and RB Taiwan Jones.

This week we’ll focus on the aggregate impact of these all around efforts and discuss the impact on the team at large. It’s a little less scheme and a little more psychology. Luckily, that means video clips.

Next: The Carr Touch