The Raiders’ stats don’t lie

Aug 21, 2010; Chicago, IL, USA; Oakland Raiders receiver Louis Murphy (18) during the preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Raiders defeated the Bears 32-17. Photo by Image of Sport Photo via Newscom

For the first time in forever, perhaps the stone ages, the Oakland Raiders are in top ten in yards per game on offense and defense. They are tenth in yards per game on offense and boasting the fourth best ground game in the league so far this year. They are also fifth in the league in time of possession per game which is a vast difference from 2009 when the offense couldn’t have bought a first down by bribing the refs they were so horrible. Meanwhile a consistently improving rushing defense has put them into the low twenties in that statistical category and they are climbing higher each week. Their passing defense has been solid, but that is normal. Thus far, the pass and rush defense combined puts them at third overall in the league.

That’s right, Raider Nation, it’s not as bad as it looks. Right now they are getting the job on offense and defense. They should be 2-1, but because of a few missed opportunities, they will face off against Houston (2-1) as a 1-2 team. But here’s some more good news, Houston has also been missing some opportunities lately. We’ll get to that later in the week.

Right now I want to talk about how impressed I am that Oakland has a reflection of the “Chokeland” tag leftover from the last seven years by having nine fumbles already, but they have been able to present enough newfound fundamentals this year to keep their turnover ratio at an even 0 so far. Things should improve from here as this should be only the beginning of what’s to come.

Let’s go ahead and get the lows out of the way. The low on offense so far is a passing offense that is ranked 19th in the league with 204 yards per game. Much of this is due to Jason Campbell’s inability to get yards through the air in the first six quarters of the season. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Bruce Gradkowski is only completing 50 percent of his passes right now, but he is getting yardage that is equivalent to somebody who is completing a higher percentage which should ultimately drive their passing yards per game up. The eventual return of wide receiver Chaz Schilens should also help that completion percentage as well as the yards per game through the air.

The Raiders have also given up nine sacks this year, which is bad but not the worst in the league. The team that is coming into town next week has actually given up more (11) and they are second to Philadelphia’s 14.In addition, the Raiders’ O-Line only gave up two sacks this week and one of the lineman actually made honorable mention on Levi’s Ballers’ list. The Raiders points per game could use some help and Tom Cable would like to see it go up by about a touchdown—which really isn’t too far off the mark considering they’ve already undergone a quarterback change this year and haven’t had a healthy Michael Bush or Schilens to use as weapons.

The bad for the defense is the rushing defense, currently ranked 24th in the NFL. The good news is that if you based the rushing defense solely on their last loss, they would be ranked 19th, which is still bad, but better than 24th. The really good news is that they were ranked 29th last year and this team is tightening it up each week so far this year. That game against the Titans was the real killer this year, if you take that one away, they have only allowed 97 yards per game which would be good for tenth in the league. And if you want to get really technical about it, you could just take away Chris Johnson’s 76 yard run and say they are allowing 107.3 yards per game, which would put them at 14th overall in stopping the run.

The good news about the bad news as that these statistical categories are on the rise and the things they are doing well this year have not been there in the past.

Except for the pass defense, but they deserve some credit and I’m going to give it to them. The Raiders’ pass defense is only allowing their opponents to complete 57.4 percent of their passes, good for twelfth in the NFL. They’ve only given up 127.7 yards per game which is second in the league to the Baltimore Ravens—who are starting former Raiders’ Chris Carr and Fabian Washington in their nickel package. Their longest catch allowed this year also came in the first game of the season, a 56 yard strike to Nate Washington from Vince Young. Had it not been for that one play, they would be the best pass defense in the league right now. That tells me that they could very well achieve that over the next three weeks of the season—if they were not playing Houston followed by the San Diego Chargers, who are currently both in the top five most productive passing offenses. =-)

Who would’ve thought Darren McFadden would be ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards after three weeks? Ahead of Chris Johnson, ahead of Michael Turner, and Maurice Jones-Drew; yes McFadden is running like he just got his training wheels off and is almost the sole reason why the Raiders are ranked 4th in the league in rushing. Personally, I can’t wait to see what happens when Michael Bush actually is 100 percent healthy and these two get going like a lethal 1-2 punch similar to what the Chiefs have with Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, who are both in the top ten in the league in rushing yards right now.

So far, McFadden has been able to do it all by himself though and has essentially broken through with two straight 100 yard games added to his resume. It was almost three straight, as he missed going over 100 yards in Tennessee by about two carries. McFadden has impressed and he is well on his way to a Pro Bowl year, though I’d like to see him get in the end zone a little bit more.

And how about a little bit of Louis Murphy to fill your glass up? He is currently 12th among receiver in yards gained (238) and is averaging 15.9 yards per catch with a long of 70 this past Sunday. And he is just getting warmed up with games of 4, 6, and 5 catches respectively. If he keeps up at his current pace, which is only five catches for 79.3 yards per game, Murphy will get to 80 catches for 1,269 yards and become the first Raiders wide receiver to break the 1,000 yard mark since Randy Moss (1,005) in 2005. And I know some of you are like, ‘yeah something will mess that up…’ or ‘why’d you have to go and bring up Randy Moss…’ but just believe that it can happen, because right now, he could miss three games this year and still break the 1,000 yard mark.

Alright now that I’ve broken down some of the bigger stats and the individual marks for the season, let’s take a look at the team stats, courtesy of www.raiders.com.

Team Statistics

 

Raiders

Opponents

TOTAL FIRST DOWNS

66

51

TOTAL OFFENSIVE YARDS

1,054

782

OFFENSE (PLAYS-AVERAGE YARDS)

216-4.9

161-4.9

TOTAL RUSHING YARDS

442

399

TOTAL PASSING YARDS

612

383

TIME OF POSSESSION

32:54

27:05

TURNOVER RATIO

+0

 

Now, some skeptics will read this article and say things like, ‘Bret, you fail to mention the Raiders have only scored four touchdowns compared to their opponents 10 touchdowns.’ But to that I say, that stat is a little skewed because five of those ten were on opening day and they have scored a total of twelve times compared to their opponents twelve scores. What they really need to do is start converting their red zone opportunities into six points and I can promise you that they are working diligently to get better at that. The purpose of this article is to highlight the difference between 2009 and 2010, and although the win-loss column might not reflect a difference thus far, eventually it will.

When all else fails, just remember what Richard Seymour said after the first loss of the year, “The team you see at the beginning of September is not the same team you see at the end of December.”

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