Remember Halloween, Raiders’ fans? The optimism. The debauchery. The our-team-has-just-won-two-out-of-their-last-three-and-the-one-loss-could-have-easily-been-a-victory-against-the-league’s-best-team-ery.
Ah, the memories.
Since then, the Raiders have fallen into a veritable black hole. They’ve lost their last two games in embarrassing fashion, giving up 934 yards on defense (they had given up 794 over the previous three weeks) and committing 19 penalties for 185 yards. The reasons for this drastic change are multiple, of course. They seem to be ever shifting. If it’s not the run defense, it’s the coverage. If it’s not the coverage, it’s the pass rush. If it’s not the pass rush, it’s the… well, you get the point.
I could attempt to break down all the issues and suggest possible changes. But doing so would be a fool’s errand (is that a saying?). Plus, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a coach. In any case, I thought it might be interesting to see just how egregious the penalties and defensive play have been. I’m a sadistic blogger, I guess.
vs Tampa Bay
In Tampa Bay’s first drive, Raider penalties gave the Bucs 30 free yards and two first downs, which the Buccaneers would use to kick a field goal.
On their second possession of the 3rd quarter, the Buccaneers were given another free first down after Lamarr Houston committed a neutral zone infraction on third down. The extra series of downs would result in a touchdown.
During the Ravens’ third series of the second quarter, a Philip Wheeler penalty turned what would have been a three-and-out into a field goal.
The Ravens’ first series of the third quarter saw Wheeler again extend the Ravens drive with a face mask penalty. Were it not for the penalty, the Ravens would have need to convert on third-and-two. But the fresh set of downs allowed Flacco to connect with Torrey Smith for a 47 yard touchdown.
In their third series of the third quarter, the Ravens were gifted an five yards on a third-and-eight thanks to a neutral zone infraction by Lamarr Houston. That five yards made the Sam Koch touchdown run possible.
Against Tampa Bay, Tommy Kelly was on the field for 26 of the Bucanneers’ 32 rush attempts. He registered 0 tackles and 0 stops (tackles that result in an offensive failure). Richard Seymour faired slightly better, registering 18 snaps against the run and two tackles, both which resulted in stops.
Against Baltimore, Kelly was on the field for 20 of the Ravens’ 28 rush attempts. He again registered 0 tackles and 0 stops. In contrast, Desmond Bryant registered 21 snaps and five tackles, two of which resulted in stops. And, Christo Bilukidi played 11 snaps, registering two tackles, both of which result in stops.
Also, it’s worth noting that in 53 pass rush snaps, Kelly produced just 1 pressure. For comparison, in only 22 snaps, Desmond Bryant registered 2 pressures.
Against Tampa Bay, Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy combined to play 52 snaps against the pass. They generated six total pressures, none of which were sacks.
Against Baltimore, in 53 pass rush snaps, Houston and Shaughnessy combined for only four pressures, none of which were sacks. Andre Carter faired much better, generating two pressures in just 12 attempts.
Shaughnessy above all has struggled significantly, even without considering his inability to effectively rush the passer. Against the run, Shaughnessy registered 42 snaps, achieving just one tackle, which was good for a stop, and two missed tackles (both came against Tampa Bay).
Surprisingly, Rolando McClain might have been the Raiders’ best linebacker over the past two games — against the run, anyway. He’s logged a total of 47 snaps against the run, earning a total of six tackles and five stops. His stop percentage (percentage of plays that resulted in a stop) against Tampa Bay ranked him in the top-10 among middle linebackers.
Outside linebackers Miles Burris and Philip Wheeler have been effective rushing the passer in limited opportunities. They’ve notched five total pressures in 28 attempts. Though that’s only 17% pressure rate, it’s on par with other 4-3 linebackers.
Where they’ve struggled is against the run. In 104 total snaps, the duo has generated seven tackles, five of which constituted stops. And, they have combined for four missled tackles.
In coverage, they’ve been worse — if you can believe that. Not only has the duo missed four combined tackles, but they’ve also been missing their coverage assignments. Receivers being covered by either Wheeler or Burris were targeted a total of 18 times. Of those 18 attempts, quarterbacks completed 18 passes for 194 yards, of which 133 yards came after the catch.
Against Tampa Bay, ex-Raider Pat Lee missed three tackles (two against the run, one in coverage). That might explain his release. Joselio Hanson, on the other hand, has played well over the past two weeks. He’s been targeted six times and allowed only two receptions for 26 yards. Michael Huff has not played well. Huff has been targeted 14 times, allowing eight receptions for 212 yards and two scores.
Against the run, no Raider has been better than Tyvon Branch. In 56 snaps, Branch registered 10 tackles, four of which were stops. In coverage, Branch has only been targeted twice, both of which went for receptions.But where Branch has excelled, Matt Giordano has floundered. Against Baltimore, Giordano was targeted five times. Three went for completions, two were touchdowns.
What It All Means
The Raiders’ penalties cost the team a total of 27 points. The ten points given to Tampa Bay would have effected the outcome of the game. The effect on the Baltimore game isn’t as obvious, though a 17 point swing might have affected the game in the Raiders’ favor.
The systemic failure to stop opposing teams either in coverage or against the run is alarming, as are the sheer number of missed tackles. How a group of professional athletes, who had been playing at an above average level the previous three weeks, could regress so drastically is beyond comprehension. The only logical explanation I can come up with revolves around coaching. After watching the Rams, who are equally short on talent, outplay the 49ers last week, I can only wonder whether Dennis Allen is getting the most out of his players. If Sundays’ game against New Orleans ends similarly to the past two, then the simply answer will be: No. And that’s a depressing thought.