Raiders Stats and Storylines: Week 13 Edition

The Raiders’ win on Thanksgiving was as promising as it was surprising. After a three-game losing streak, the offense snapped out of their funk in impressive fashion, with a dropback EPA of 0.473, tops in the NFL in Week 12. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the speedy DeSean Jackson.

Therefore, if Jackson can remain healthy, this success can remain sustainable. But that’s a big if. Jackson missed practice on Thursday and the sportsbooks responded by lowering the Raiders from 2.5-point favorites to 1-point favorites. A drop that large shows just how important Jackson’s speed is to this team and its playoff aspirations.

Speaking of, let’s take a look at the Raiders current playoff odds and the other storylines surrounding the team, as they enter their Week 13 matchup against Washington.

1. Weekly Playoff Odds Update

Despite a winning record, the Raiders playoff odds remain slim, thanks to a brutal remaining schedule that features exclusively playoff hopefuls.

It’s therefore paramount that the Raiders do something they so often fail to: Win a game they’re favored in. In fact, per The Upshot, the difference between a win or loss is a difference of 20% of playoff probability:

Of course, there’s a lot of season left and a probability chart is not set in stone. But a loss against Washington would likely make the remaining games a hell of a lot less important.

2. Weekly Rich Bisaccia is Bad at 4th Down Update

Perhaps the Raiders biggest deficiency — and one this column has been harping on for weeks — is interim coach Rich Bisaccia’s in-game decision making, in general, and fourth downs, specifically.

And the Dallas game was no different, despite a win.

To that point, I’d argue that Bisaccia’s fourth-down decisions made it more difficult for the Raiders to win and the math supports that notion. Below is a snapshot of the decisions he faced and the choices he made:

  • 4th & 4 at DAL 4: Field Goal
  • 4th & 5 at DAL 46: Punt
  • 4th & 2 at DAL 27: Field Goal
  • 4th & 2 at DAL 7 (declined penalty to create this): FG
  • 4th & 3 at the DAL 38: Field Goal

Cumulatively, these decisions cost Raiders 8.9% of Win Probability. And, unfortunately, this overly conservative decision-making continues to be a trend. Per Jack Lichtenstein, Bisaccia is the second-worst coach in the NFL at 4th downs, having only made the correct choice 53% of the time, which is dead last:

Yes, there are two easy rebuttals to this. One, the Raiders won in Dallas. And, two, Bill Belichick is good company to keep.

I’d rebut those rebuttals by pointing out that the Raiders lost against Cincinnati and New York, partially due to Bisaccia’s conservative decisions. And that Belichick has earned a benefit of the doubt that Bisaccia has not — and should also be more aggressive on fourth down.

3. DeSean Jackson, the Offense’s Missing Ingredient

It’s no coincidence that the Raiders three-game losing streak occurred at the same time they lost Henry Ruggs and were getting DeSean Jackson up to speed.

Their passing offense is built for the vertical game, recording an NFL-best 12.8% explosive pass rate. Unfortunately, neither Bryan Edwards nor Zay Jones create enough separation to be the field-stretcher an offense like that requires. DeSean Jackson, however, does.

Jackson currently leads the NFL in yards per route run with an impressive 3.54. For comparison, Edwards is at 1.22 and Jones is at 1.24, while the man Jackson is replacing, Henry Ruggs, was at 2.15.

More than individual stats, it’s the speed — and what it does for the offense as a whole — that matters most. To this point, take a look at how the Raiders have ranked in Dropback EPA throughout the season:

WeeksDropback EPANFL Rank
1-8 (Ruggs playing)0.187
9-11 (No Ruggs, Jackson limited)-0.16926th
12 (Jackson involved)0.473

It’s clear the Raiders are top ten passing offense, as long as they have a suitable deep threat on the field. That fact makes Jackson the Raiders’ most valuable offensive player not named Derek Carr.

4. Carr Getting Little Help

There are two storylines at work in the remainder of the season. In the short term, the Raiders are battling for a playoff spot. The more intriguing one, however, may be the long-term one. Mark Davis must decide the fate of three men: GM Mike Mayock, interim head coach Rich Bisaccia and quarterback Derek Carr.

The fates of Mayock and Bisaccia should be easier decisions. Carr, though, remains as difficult to evaluate as ever, partly because he’s gotten so little help from his teammates. In fact, per Arjun Menon, only six quarterbacks have gotten less help:

Paying Derek Carr could make it harder to surround him with more talent, which makes an extension quite the conundrum.

5. One Extension Decision that Should be Easy

Unlike the decision regarding a potential Carr extension, there is one choice that should be easy.

Next spring, the front office will have to make a decision on Josh Jacobs’ fifth-year option. And, per Josh Dubow, that option will be a hefty sum of $10.1 million.

That salary would make Jacobs the sixth-highest paid running back in 2023. That’s a pretty penny to pay for below-average production:

It’s simply way too much money to pay for the running back with the worst EPA per rush. Therefore, declining his option would be a sign that the franchise is headed in the right direction.

6. Run Game Stubbornness

Not to say that the lack of run game success is all Josh Jacobs’ fault. To the contrary, I’d argue that the play-calling and offensive line deserve a lion’s share of the blame.

The negative effect of the play-calling becomes even more apparent when looking at the rate the Raiders run into stacked boxes. Via Arjun Menon:

No team has less success running the ball into stacked boxes than the Raiders. Unfortunately, that’s not for a lack of trying, either, as only ten teams have a higher rate. That’s a stubbornly bad combo.

7. What to do About those Stacked Boxes

The natural solution to the above problem is to stop running the ball into stacked boxes. Which means the Raiders either need to spread teams out to run the ball or pass more. Or both. But for the moment let’s focus on passing.

In neutral situations since Greg Olson took over as playcaller, here’s where the Raiders rank in terms of efficiency:

They have the second-best Dropback EPA, yet they’re eleventh in pass rate, twelve percent behind the leader:

The top five teams in early-down pass rate are all headed to the postseason. The Raiders should consider joining them in pass rate if they want to join them in the playoffs.

8. Washington Defense Will Test Interior Offensive Line

It’s no secret that the Raiders offensive line has struggled this season. And this week they’ll have one of their toughest pass-rushing tests to date: A Washington defense that ranks fifth in PFF’s team pass-rush rankings.

According to Next Gen Stats, nowhere will this pressure be more evident than up the middle:

Alex Leatherwood’s pass protection took a step forward last week, but this week will be a bigger challenge for him and his interior-line teammates.

9. Facing Top Defenses… A Good Thing?

Washington enters the week ranked 13th in PFF team defensive rankings. In one of the weirder stats, facing a top-half defense actually bodes well for Derek Carr, according to Tej Seth, as these are the games he typically plays best in:

Carr is all alone in his quadrant, with an EPA/play that’s more than twice better than the runner-up. Counterintuitively, it therefore may be a good thing that the Raiders upcoming schedule features good defenses.

10. Raiders Pass Defense Continues to Impress

If it weren’t for the off-the-field tragedies and drama, the 2021 Raiders season could have been defined by the surprising success of its defense.

Especially the pass defense, which features an elite pair of edge rushers:

Next Gen Stats on Twitter: “Yannick Ngakoue (55 QB pressures) & Maxx Crosby (53) further distanced themselves from the rest of the league’s pass rushers in total QB pressures.🔹 Maxx Crosby: 5 QBP on 44 pass rushes (11.4%)🔹 Yannick Ngakoue: 4 QBP on 38 pass rushes (10.5%)#LVvsDAL | #RaiderNation / Twitter”

Yannick Ngakoue (55 QB pressures) & Maxx Crosby (53) further distanced themselves from the rest of the league’s pass rushers in total QB pressures.🔹 Maxx Crosby: 5 QBP on 44 pass rushes (11.4%)🔹 Yannick Ngakoue: 4 QBP on 38 pass rushes (10.5%)#LVvsDAL | #RaiderNation

And is complemented by a cornerback tandem that simply does not give up touchdowns:

PFF Bet on Twitter: “Most coverage snaps without a TD allowed (amongst CBs):Casey Hayward Jr. – 417 snapsNate Hobbs – 385 snaps / Twitter”

Most coverage snaps without a TD allowed (amongst CBs):Casey Hayward Jr. – 417 snapsNate Hobbs – 385 snaps

If the Raiders could sneak their way into the playoffs, a defense like this could allow them to make some noise. Stay tuned to the betting column for more analysis on whether or not the Raiders can increase those playoff odds with a win over Washington.

Twitter: @TravisGilkeson


1 thought on “Raiders Stats and Storylines: Week 13 Edition

  1. Stats dont mean anything if your qb cant win,cant even get you to the playoffs the looser qb wilk always be knowned as someone that could’lt win

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