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Raiders figure defense will end NFL record interception-less streak ‘in bunches’ and if so this is a good week for it

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Oakland Raiders v Miami Dolphins Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

As of last week the Raiders had already set a new NFL record by being the only team in league history to go without making an interception over the first seven games of a season. Last week against the Bills, they extended that record to 8 games.

Until the streak ends, the questions will continue as to when and how they will break through. Jack Del Rio gets a smirk on his face whenever he’s asked about it and last week joked about burning out the jugs machine on the DB’s to get them to hold onto the ball.

It’s strange to think somehow the Raiders DB’s, who were among the league leaders in interceptions last season, suddenly forgot how to catch the ball. It seems more likely it has to do with scheme.

That’s not to say the scheme is a problem. Just that they are emphasizing keeping players in front of them and going for the tackle instead of gambling to pick off the ball. And being that it’s the first season with John Pagano as part of the defense, it has clearly taken some time to find a way to do both.

Another common response to the question about turnovers has been that they tend to come in bunches. That was certainly the case for the 2002 Bills and 1998 Oilers who shared the record with 6 games to start a season without an interception. Both of those teams ended their streaks the following week with multiple interception games. The Oilers had three interceptions, the Bills had four.

“If you’ve been around a long time you know they come in bunches,” Raiders Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr said Thursday. “Sometimes you get them really fast, sometimes they come over a period of time, sometimes you get none and then they all come. But you have to understand and believe in your principles, you have to understand and believe in your fundamentals and the way you work and the way you practice and know it’s gonna come.”

That big breakthrough has not happened for the Raiders. And if it is to happen, this seems like a good week for it.

The Dolphins called quarterback Jay Cutler out of retirement at age 34 and he has thrown an interception in each of his last five starts. He started five games for the Bears last season and threw five interceptions with only one game without a pick. He has more career interceptions (151) than he has career starts (145).

The Raiders’ lost the turnover battle in a big way last week in Buffalo and it was the primary factor in their blowout loss. Two fumbles and two interceptions directly led to 13 points for the Bills in a game the Bills led by 13 points until a late turnover on downs set up a touchdown run that turned out the lights.

“Each game we’re getting our hands on balls,” Del Rio said Monday. “You got to catch the ball. I mean, we’ll keep working. We’re drilling it. We’re drilling stripping it. They did a great job yesterday getting four from us. That was the difference in the ball game. It’s largely the same group of guys that are drilling things the same way and we got a lot of them last year. It’s not a matter of want to, they come in bunches. We’d love to have them come in this second half. That’s really help. You talk about getting your mojo going, you start getting a bunch of those turnovers and start giving the offense more possessions and good things happen.”

If they don’t get an interception this week, or even ‘bunches’ of them, they’re much less likely to get it after the bye week against Tom Brady who has just two picks this season and had two picks all of last season.

This streak can’t continue if the Raiders are to turn things around. The offense desperately needs the help of some timely turnovers.


Who gets the Raiders’ first interception?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    David Amerson
    (28 votes)
  • 13%
    TJ Carrie
    (77 votes)
  • 23%
    Karl Joseph
    (138 votes)
  • 13%
    Reggie Nelson
    (80 votes)
  • 20%
    Another DB
    (118 votes)
  • 23%
    A linebacker or defensive lineman
    (138 votes)
579 votes total Vote Now