Raiders' Run Defense: A Statistical Analysis

After 6 weeks of some very exciting football, we've arrived at the bye week. This is a good juncture for us to reflect upon our season so far. Are we as good as we thought we'd be? Are we improving? How far can we go? What changes do we need to make? I'll be discussing our rush Defense in this post with a healthy dose of statistics. To avoid sounding like a textbook, I'll be using NFL ranks instead of specific stats. We'll start with broad strokes and get more specific later in the post. Without further ado, let's get right into it.

- When ranking defenses, the first thing most people look at yards/game(ypg) allowed. We are 16th in this category, allowing ~117 ypg. Our best games in ypg were against Broncos (39), Browns (65), and Texans (70). Our worst games were against Bills (223) and Patriots (183).

- We are #23 in yards/carry(ypc), giving up 4.6 yards average on each attempt. We allowed an ungodly 9.3 ypc to the Bills and 6.1 to the Pats. Going into Houston, we were ranked dead last at #32 in ypc. But here is the good news, we've allowed a league best of 3.2 yards per carry in the last 3 games. That's right, the lowest in the league in the while facing the #5 and #7th best rushing offenses. Remember this point, we'll revisit this again.

So far we've looked at what we're giving up in rushing yards. Now let's get into where we're giving them up.

- Our D-line is top 10 in stopping the run. However if the runners get past our line, we're #25 at the second level. It gets even worse in the open field where we rank #30. We give up an unproportional number of big runs. Once a runner gets past the D-line we can't stop them to save our lives.

- Now let's look at the field from sideline to sideline. Refer to my perfectly drawn illustration below. The black lines represent the different paths an RB can take. The red numbers are our run defense ranks in that particular area.




- Some things that stick out: we're damn good at defending near our defensive ends (ranks 1 and 4) and decent on the right end (ranked #8). God help us at the left end though (ranked 29).

- Our rank near middle of the field is just average (#15) despite having two of the best tackles in the league. I believe that's because McClain missing tackles negates any advantage we have with Seymour and Kelly in that part of the field.

- Left end also makes sense, unfortunately. We've mostly had rookie corners and Groves covering that side of the field. But on the positive side, we've made tremendous improvements here. Remember when I said that we've stepped up our rush defense in the last 3 games? I attribute that to better coaching, our rookies improving, and Curry replacing Groves. Bresnahan was asked what he did to improve our rush defense after the Houston game. He answered "We took away the [left] edge".

I am speculating that we might have signed Ndukwe to help with the open field tackles. The keyword most often used to describe him is "hard hitter". It'll definitely help when he is tackling RBs.

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