Raiders Third Down Offense is 2nd-Best in The NFL, Defense is the Worst

Derek Carr has done a lot of things well in the first two games, but one of the most impressive has been his ability to make plays on third down. Third down is usually the toughest down to find success in the NFL because that’s when opposing defensive coordinators pull out their best tricks and get more aggressive.

Nevertheless, Carr’s numbers this year on third down are remarkable. His stat line reads 15-18 (83.3% completion), 163 yards, 9.1 YPA, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Thanks to those figures, the Raiders have the second-best third-down conversation percentage in the NFL (57.1) and lead the league in total third-down conversions (tied with the Rams at 16).

There is no question that Jon Gruden and Carr are getting more comfortable with each other and to his credit, Gruden is getting away from some of the conservative play calling we’ve seen from him in the past. On first downs this year, the Raiders have run 29 passes and only 15 rushes. Gruden showed a willingness on Monday night to put Carr in shotgun and let him operate – something the Saints definitely didn’t seem prepared for.

Now for the bad news…

The Raiders defense is giving up first downs on 58.3% of third downs this year. That’s the worst percentage in the NFL and 16% worse than Paul Guenther’s defense performed a year ago.

Thankfully it’s early and two games is a small sample size, but at some point the Raiders have to change the culture on defense… because it hasn’t happened yet. Considering all the money they spent on defense in the offseason, results are hopefully coming soon. 2016 was fun, but if the Raiders really want to be contenders for a Super Bowl, they’re going to have to figure out a way beat times on both sides of the ball.

There were some good moments on Monday night for the defense, but still a lot of room for improvement. Who would have guessed that with the addition of Rod Marinelli to the coaching staff the defensive line would have just one sack through two games?

And almost as bad as that, opposing running backs (albeit two very good ones) are averaging 4.9 yards per carry against the Raiders this year.

Hopefully Guenther and the gang can figure things out in time to slow down a rejuvenated Cam Newton and the Patriots on Sunday.

twitter: @raidersbeat


1 thought on “Raiders Third Down Offense is 2nd-Best in The NFL, Defense is the Worst

  1. Love the Raiders offense this year. Defense without Nick Kwiatkowski they need help stopping the run. Nicholas Morrow did me a favor against the Saints, so far they haven’t committed too many penalties like usual

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