One of the Raiders biggest concerns from last season was third-down conversion percentage. They were middle of the pack at 17th in the NFL with a 39.9% 3rd down conversion rate.
A large contributing factor to poor 3rd down percentage is being in 3rd in long situations. Penalties cause many 3rd and long situations. The Raiders are notorious for committing penalties.
Jack Del Rio has preached a culture change that includes accountability, intelligence and discipline on the field. That would certainly reduce penalties, and, by transitive effect, increase 3rd down efficiency.
Through two playoff games, the Raiders have committed 21 penalties. TWENTY ONE! That is atrocious, and is the antithesis of discipline, even with inexperienced players during preseason. Double digit penalties in both games? Unacceptable, preseason or not.
And as usual it’s killing drives and putting the offense in bad positions during third down.
Against the Cardinals, the Raiders were an absolutely woeful 3 for 12 on third down, 25%. That would’ve been last in the NFL last season by almost a full percentage point. Of course, they did commit 11 penalties.
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That was in a game they won, where they played passably well. Last night against the Packers, they were 3 for 11. That’s up slightly, to 27.2%, which would have only ranked 31st in the NFL last season. Moving up in the world!! Perhaps that’s because they committed one less penalty, with 10, than in Arizona.
This team preached discipline and putting themselves in good situations throughout the offseason to build upon their acquired talent. So 21 penalties in two games and a combined 7 for 23 for 26% third down efficiency is a regression worth noting.
The Cardinals game was a bit of a smokescreen. These problems have persisted through two preseason games, and it’s not the backups and fringe players culpable. It’s the first team starters, lacking fire, discipline, and any sense that they may actually have to earn their wins and not just read about the potential for them. Poor play can be overcome – it’s the poor attitude that is a real concern.
Charles Woodson and his toughness would take the team to the woodshed for this one. A leader must step up in the clubhouse beyond Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. who ready to jack his teammates up and bring this team to the mental level they need to be before it becomes habitual.
Next: Preseason Week 2 Takeaways: Quick Points