For a moment it looked as if the Raiders would get off to an 0-4 start, but thanks to a week four come from behind win in overtime the Raiders finish the first quarter of the season with a 1-3 record.
It certainly has not been the start Raiders players, coaches, and fans were hoping for. Anytime your head coach and general manager trades a future hall of fame pass rusher away one week before the season, things are bound to be a little rocky.
There are multiple ways to assess the first four weeks of the 2018 season, and that depends greatly on if you are a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” kind of thinker.
No matter how you look at it, the Raiders have earned themselves a 1-3 record, last in the AFC west division.
Offensive and defensive ranks
Currently, the Raiders rank second in total offense with 1,767 yards (441.8 per game). The majority of the yards come through the air (333 per game). It was nice to see Marshawn Lynch have a big game in week four, the run game needs to improve if the Raiders are to have success in the next quarter in the season. The Raiders average 108.8 rushing yards per game, 15th in the NFL.
Despite the high volume of yardage, points have come at a premium. Point totals of 13, 19, and 20 before the 45 point explosion versus the Browns.
Derek Carr ranks fourth in yards passing with 1,373, 20th in touchdown passes with six, and fourth in completion percentage (71%). As good as the numbers look for Carr, a major reason for the Raiders three loses is Carr’s carelessness with the football. A stat no quarterback ever wants to lead the league in is interceptions. Derek Carr’s seven interceptions is tops in the league.
Marshawn Lynch has quietly put together a great first quarter of the season. His 300 yards rushing ranks fourth in the league. He also has scored three touchdowns.
Jared Cook, surprisingly ranks 10th in receiving yards with 370 yards on 26 receptions. Cook has benefited from Jon Gruden’s ability to call up plays that put Cook in favorable match ups.
Defensively, the unit has shown flashes of great things but statistically they rank 5th in total yards given up with 1,610 (402.5 per game). They also give up the second most points in the league, 123 (30.8 per game).
There’s no way around it the run defense has been bad, giving up 139.3 yards per game (3rd in NFL). With a nonexistent pass rush, the secondary has been asked to do more. Unfortunately, they have not been able to answer the bell consistently enough. The 1,053 yards of passing given up ranks them 15th.
The underlining issue is lack of pass rush. Without Mack, the defensive line does not have a player capable of demanding double teams or who teams need to game plan against. The Raiders have five sacks on the season, dead last in the NFL.
One final glaring stat from the first quarter of the season is the turnover differential. The defense has only generated 5 takeaways, four came against the Browns. Derek Carr’s seven interceptions puts the Raiders at a negative two turnover differential (T-20th).
Highlight of the first quarter
There are several plays to choose from but for me the highlight play from the first four games took place in the overtime win against the Browns.
With 4:39 left to play in overtime, the Raiders on their own 26-yard line were faced with a critical 3rd and 3. Both teams had possessed the ball once, so it was next score wins.
As he had been doing all game, Browns defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams dialed up a blitz. Derek Carr stood tall in the pocket knowing he was going to take a big hit. With pressure in his face, Carr delivered a beautiful ball to Jared Cook.
Biggest play of the game, in the biggest game of the year. pic.twitter.com/4NyUyDyyqZ— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) October 1, 2018
As great as the throw was, Cook made an unbelievable catch as he was laying out full extension for the ball.
How about this catch by Cook. Carr showed some guts after taking this hit in OT. pic.twitter.com/nSrN3LlaR7— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) October 1, 2018
Derek Carr took a brutal hit to the chest but got up and finished off the drive that would eventually end with a Matt McCrane game winning 29 yard field goal.
What to expect in the next four
The schedule looks fairly friendly in the next quarter of the season. In week five the Raiders will travel south to take on the Chargers. That should feel more like a home game. This game is especially important being a divisional game.
Week 6, the Raiders make the trip over the pond to take on the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle certainly isn’t the franchise they once were. A lot depends in this game on how well the players adapt to the long travel and schedule adjustments they will face.
Returning home from London, the Raiders have their bye week. After that they welcome in the Indianapolis Colts. Andrew Luck has looked pretty good in his return to the field, but this is still a roster that lacks talent. This is a very winnable game for the Raiders.
In week 8, the Raiders will play their third game in four weeks in their home state of California when they head to Santa Clara to play the 49ers in primetime on Thursday night football. The 49ers two best players have been lost for the season with ACL tears, the Raiders will fully expect to win this one.