Even with the Raiders jumping out to a 4-2 record this season, the defense has been looking like the same old cure for what ails opposing offenses.
Ailing the Jaguars this season has been their offense, led by Blake Bortles who has not taken the next step in his development. And in this league, if you're not taking a step forward, you're taking a step back.
Last season Bortles put up some fantastic numbers. And just for comparison, we put Derek Carr's numbers from last season below his. A season that had Carr headed to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
These numbers show that he and Derek Carr weren't separated by much in their second seasons in the NFL, with Bortles actually besting Carr by nearly 500 yards passing and 3 touchdowns.
Both quarterbacks looked headed in the right direction. But over the first six games this season, only Derek Carr has continued in that trajectory while Bortles has been quickly headed in the wrong direction.
Look at Bortles's per game averages from last season to this.
As you can see, Bortles's numbers are down nearly across the board. The only area that has improved is his completion percentage. I spoke with Jaguars' blogger Ryan Day who explained why that might be.
"His completion percentage is up, but I think that's a result of a more conservative gameplan by offensive coordinator Greg Olson. Why conservative? Because Bortles is playing terribly this season. He's so inconsistent and so inaccurate. . . Blake Bortles is throwing some of the worst passes I've seen of him in his career."
Not a glowing review of the former third overall pick in his third NFL season.
That being said, I have seen too many instances in my years covering the Raiders where they are set to face an offense or a quarterback who is struggling and yet when they see Silver & Black across the line of scrimmage they magically spring to life.
Last week Alex Smith put up franchise record numbers against the Raiders, completing over 84% of his passes. Other quarterbacks to light up this defense include... well the only one who didn't was Marcus Mariota. All others this season were on fire, taking whatever they wanted. It was the Raiders' offense that came out and saved the day in each instance.
The numbers the Raiders are allowing are not pretty.
NFL worst yards per game -- 444.8
NFL worst passing yards per game -- 312.7
Third fewest sacks -- 8
Third most rushing yards per game -- 132.2
That last one makes you wonder about the Jaguars struggling running game which, at 71 yards per game, is just a hair above the worst in the league. Making that a battle of attrition as well.
Something has got to give. Either the Raiders defense will give up yards from a struggling Blake Bortles and an anemic Jaguars rushing attack, or they will step up and tackle the problem head on.
Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin said following the loss to the Chiefs that he has confidence the defense will improve. I asked him what gave him that confidence, to which his only response was "We got no choice."