You really have to squint in order to find an area of the 2018 Raiders that wasn’t really bad. They had basically one complete game all season. All the others showcased glaring problems on multiple different fronts. That’s what Pro Football Focus saw as well.
Let’s start on the defense with the front seven. Where the Raiders were rotating players like crazy attempting to find something — anything — that worked. Whether it was defensive tackle, defensive end, or linebacker, a strength was hard to find. And ultimately, PFF ranked them as the worst front seven in the league.
When all was said and done, the Raiders sent out 23 different players in their front seven at one point or another. We could pile on this unit for days, but they aren’t completely bereft of hope. Rookie Maurice Hurst ended up as their highest-graded defensive lineman this season. He earned a 72.7 overall grade after falling all the way to the fifth round of the draft.
From there, we move to the secondary, where late in the season a couple players began to stand out in a positive way, but which ultimately still landed second to last in the league in PFF’s ranking, ahead of only the 49ers. Just as they did with the front seven, PFF ranks them one thing, then says ‘cheer up, grey skies are gonna clear up!’ in the breakdown.
While the overall ranking certainly isn’t pretty for the Raiders, there’s still some reason for hope. Former first-round pick Karl Joseph earned his highest grade as a pro (74.5), while other former first-rounder Gareon Conley looked much improved down the stretch. He finished the season allowing a catch rate of only 54.0% and a passer rating of 72.8.
Then we hop back over to the offensive side of the ball, and the raggedy bunch on the offensive line. The interior trio is supposed to carry the load here, but injuries threw a wrench in that. And as we know, the rookie tackles were a travesty. They were ranked fifth from worst in the league by PFF.
This was an offensive line that was a top-5 unit as recently as two years ago. Kelechi Osemele inexplicably fell off a cliff though with a 53.8 overall grade this season, and the Raiders’ offensive tackles were a nightmare. Rookies Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker combined to allow 26 sacks and had 19 penalties between them.
They didn’t do rankings for the receiving corps but had they, it wouldn’t have been pretty either.
About the best thing they had to say about the Raiders was Derek Carr, who they ranked 19th among starting quarterbacks. So, below average. That is unless he is pressured, which was a LOT last season (see the offensive line rank for that). Under pressure, he was among the worst in the league — 25th among starting QB’s. He ranked 17th when not under pressure.
Overall Grade: 73.4
Carr flashed the 2016 version of himself in bursts late in the season, but his 2018 season as a whole could be easily forgotten if not purposefully forgotten by Carr. His 1.65 turnover-worthy throw percentage from a clean pocket was the fifth-lowest mark among qualifiers, but he failed to turn clean-pocket opportunities into big plays at a high rate. His average depth of target from a clean pocket (6.26) was the lowest in the NFL, and his big-time throw percentage from a clean pocket (3.30%) was the fifth-lowest.
Carr’s 19th rank is just ahead of Joe Flacco (20) who was benched for rookie Lamar Jackson and the Ravens immediately began winning, even though Jackson himself wasn’t great. The rest of the QB’s below that is a who’s who of UGH.
Among those ranked ahead of Carr include the likes of Dak Prescott (18), Kirk Cousins (14), Andy Dalton (12), and Baker Mayfield (9).