Oakland Raiders: 3 big stats from the first quarter of the season
One of the biggest stories going into the season was how the Raiders would improve their pass rush. And so far, they are still looking for answers. Oakland isn’t dead last like they were in 2018, however 27th in pressure rate, according to Football Outsiders, is still not good enough in a division that features Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers.
I highlight the pressure rate instead of sacks because if you’re able to make a QB play faster than he wants due to pressure, it can be just useful as a sack. However, the Raiders continue to provide little in either category, and this defense will continue to have troubles until that changes.
The talent on the defensive line is a bit shaky as the Raiders are forced to rely on a very young crop of pass rushers, but that was the front office’s choice. Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby have promise, but they’re being relied on heavily with Benson Mayowa getting fewer snaps and Arden Key becoming a ghost. Plus, they are merely getting nothing from their guys on the interior.
In four of their next five games, the Raiders will face Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Matthew Stafford, and Phillip Rivers. It will be challenging to win any of those games if those quarterbacks can sit in the pocket and do whatever they want.
This is also in part why the Raiders need to have a decent lead going into halftime because their defense can only hold on for so long given their inability to create pressure. The Colts game last week was teetering even though the Colts had to abandon their run-first mindset and throw the ball 46 times. If not for great and uncharacteristic plays by the secondary forcing turnovers who knows what would have happened. The offense was part to blame for their conservative play-calling, but Paul Guenther knows how Grunden operates, so he needs to find a way to get more pressure.
Blitzing is an obvious option, but the Raiders haven’t even been capable when they have blitzed. An article done by Raidersbeat highlighted Guenther’s lack of blitzing as Oakland is bottom five in frequency. They only blitz 18.2% of the time and allowing 9.4 yards per play when they do. So at the moment, there does not seem to be an easy answer to the Raiders’ lack of pressure, but Gruden and his staff better figure out something quick.