October 14. That’s the last time the Raiders had a sack in a game. It came in the third quarter of the team’s game in London against the Seahawks. It was the first of rookie Arden Key’s career. No one has had one since.
When Key had that sack, I asked him what teammate Bruce Irvin said to him. Irvin heard the question and yelled across the locker room “Bout damn time!”
Irvin still leads the Raiders team with 3.0 sacks. Last week he was waived and is now set to play for the Falcons this weekend.
That’s the kind of turnaround the Raiders would like to see from the two pass rushers they signed to replace Irvin.
They are Jacquies Smith and Kony Ealy. Between them they have 28.5 career sacks since 2014. In case you were wondering, Irvin had 30.0 sacks over the same time period.
Currently, the Raiders are easily the league’s worst pass rushing team. They have just 7.0 sacks and 22 QB hits in 8 games. Irvin may have led the team in sacks, but he hadn’t recorded one since week five, which was the last time the Raiders faced the Chargers.
Philip Rivers with his quick release is hard enough to sack even with pressure. Give him none and he will pick you apart. They need the newcomers Ealy and/or Smith to be his replacement and they need it ASAP. And that depends on how quickly they can pick up their responsibilities in Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther’s defense.
“We’ll see how they go,” Guenther said of the progress of his new new pass rushers. “They [did] a great job yesterday in the beginning phases of practice. They really picked up the system. It’s all going to depend how much they can pick up. They’ve done a nice job with that so far so hopefully by the end of the week we’ll have them caught up.”
Smith has seen the field most recently, having played three games with the Cardinals this season. Probably not coincidentally the Raiders week 11 opponent is the Cardinals.
Ealy was cut by the Cowboys before the season and had yet to sign on with a team. The former Panthers second round pick had 14.0 sacks in three season with the Panthers before spending last season with the Jets, collecting just 1.0 sack in 15 appearances.
That one sack is the combined total sacks for both players since 2016, so it’s best to not have high expectations from them. But at this point, anything would be better than what they’re getting now.