We’re through three quarters of the Raiders 2018 season. It’s fair to say that although things are still a complete mess, that the team showed some fight the past four weeks.
The Raiders picked up their second win of the year in week 11 on the road against the Arizona Cardinals. And although there are no moral victories in the NFL they were competitive for three quarters versus the Ravens and were within a turnover of a potential huge upset against the Chiefs.
With a 2-10 record the Raiders currently hold the second overall pick in the 2019 draft, also with the trades of Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, they own the 22nd and 26th picks in round one.
Offensive and defensive ranks
In comparison to the second quarter numbers the offense has seen a slight improvement in points per game scored from 17.6 to 18.3 (29th). That is in part to Derek Carr’s seven game interception free streak. Carr’s has done a great job limiting his interceptions and it has helped keep games more competitive.
In the week 12 post-game press conference Carr credited his coaching staff for his improved decision making.
“I give credit to my coaches, they drill me over and over again. It’s 1st down, you don’t have to force it. We ended up scoring like you said. Those are the things that you take away and you say okay yes, the coaches are awesome. It’s registering in the heat of the moment,” Carr said.
In the last four games Derek Carr is averaging 228.5 yards passing per game with 6 touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders dropped from 24th in overall defense to 28th from the second quarter report. The lack of pass rush and porous run defense continues to be the major issues for Paul Guenther’s defense. The Raiders still give up way too many points, 30.6 per game, which ranks them 31st.
Despite the lack of overall progress there has been two individual improvements throughout the last four weeks. Former first round picks, Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph who were thought to be on the trading block a couple weeks ago now look like potential building blocks on defense.
In Weeks 11-13 (3 games), #Raiders' Gareon Conley (@_gconley8) has allowed 15 yards and an 8.3 passer rating in coverage -- both league-lows among CBs with 50+ coverage snaps in the three-week span.— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) December 3, 2018
GC now ranks 6th in passer rating allowed (65.5) on the year.
The continued development of Conley and Joseph over the last four games could greatly effect the Raiders off-season plans as far as how aggressively they attack the secondary in free agency and through the draft.
Highlights of the third quarter
Derek Carr finds rookie Marcell Ateman for a big gain setting up Raiders for second win of season
Big play by the rookie Ateman. 32 yard gain on final drive. pic.twitter.com/8gSYWNMrGe— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) November 19, 2018
Gareon Conley’s pass deflection leads to Marcus Gilchrist interception
Conley deflects the pass and Gilchrist comes up with the INT. Conley continue to get better. pic.twitter.com/JOupZHBbPe— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) November 26, 2018
Marcell Ateman’s first career touchdown
What to expect in the final four
Realistically there is one game remaining on the schedule that the Raiders could win, and that is week 15 at Cincinnati. There is one team that allows more points than the Raiders on defense and that is the Bengals.
The Bengals are also without Andy Dalton and AJ Green who were both lost for the season with injuries. The three other remaining games are against the Steelers (7-4), Chiefs (10-2), and Broncos (6-6).
One other thing to monitor down the stretch is the San Francisco 49ers. Both the Raiders and 49ers have 2-10 record, the 49ers hold the tie-breaker over the Raiders for the number one pick.