The Raiders have clearly taken a step back this season. What was a playoff hopeful 8-8 team is now a woeful 4-11 team that doesn’t have a victory over an opponent with an above .500 record. Such a drastic turnaround inevitably (and rightly) leads to questions of leadership–specifically whether or not the Raiders would be better with Hue Jackson than they are without him. There is no way to definitively answer this question. Offseason turnover and in-season injury have certainly hindered the Raiders this season. But those reasons aside, it is still very apparent that the united field by offensive coordinator Greg Knapp pales in the comparison to that of Jackson. But just how badly might surprise you.
Okay, so neither offense is great. That is to say, the discrepancies here are not drastic. But they are important. The .6 difference in yards per play would account for nearly 600 yards of offense this season, which would vault the Raiders to third in total offense.
Still, the greater the discrepancy lies in the play of Carson Palmer, who faired much better in Hue’s scheme than he has been in the West Coast offense.
These stats, unless noted otherwise, are provided by Pro Football Focus (PFF). Also note that I’ve provided three different quarterback rating. The traditional NFL model, which most agree is flawed (Read about it HERE). ESPN’s rating, which ”is a statistical measure that incorporates the contexts and details of those throws and what they mean for wins,” (Read about it HERE). And PFF’s rating, which is takes the traditional NFL formula and changes the statistical inputs (Read about it HERE).
That Carson Palmer has a higher quarterback rating this season is evidence of the flawed measures used by the NFL. Though not as accurate last season, he was still a better quarterback. He managed to complete more than 60% of his passes and do so at 8.4 yards per attempt, which would lead the NFL this season.
Not only was he a better quarterback in 2011, but he was a better quarterback against much more difficult defense.
Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) is a stat developed by Football Outsiders (FO). According to FO, DVOA “takes every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to a league-average baseline based on situation,” and “it gives a more accurate picture of how much better (or worse) a team really is relative to the rest of the league.” To read DVOA, know that the lower the total score, the better the defense (Zero represents average). If a team’s DVOA is in the negative, that defense is good. If it’s in the positive, the defense is bad. Weighted DVOA is adjusted to give more weight to more recent games. That is, games earlier in the season do not affect a team’s DVOA as much as later games. Read more about DVOA HERE.
I’ve given you both. “Weighted Through Week Played” represents the opponent’s weighted DVOA during the week of the matchup. “Overall” is the team’s current, unweighted DVOA. I’ve also given you Overall Pass, which is the team’s current, unweighted DVOA against the pass. And, finally, I’ve given you rank so that you have a very easy means of determining the quality of an opponent both at the time of the match up and now.
No matter how you look at it, Palmer and the Raiders offense was much more formidable in 2011. So much so, in fact, that were the Raiders to have continued their 2011 trend, which it is very likely given their weaker 2012 schedule, they would be a top-5 offense. Just how this would affect their overal record is unknowable, especially given how poorly the defense has played. But it is safe to say that they probably wouldn’t be 4-11.