At the quarter mark of the 2019 season the Raiders are 2-2, currently tied for second in the AFC West.
Heading into the season there was plenty of buzz surrounding higher expectations for the 2019 Raiders. After all they did trade for Antonio Brown, signed three big free agents in Trent Brown, Lamarcus Joyner, and Tyrell Williams. In addition to those upgrades the draft class looked promising led by the three first round picks.
It didn’t take long for the excitement to change to concern.
A week before the season after a controversial training camp which included Antonio Brown burning his feet in a cryotherapy chamber, filing two grievances against the NFL’s helmet policy, and a near fight with the general manager, the Raiders parted ways with Brown.
Despite a strong performance in the week one win versus the Broncos, more bad news would hit the Raiders when first round rookie safety Johnathan Abram tore his rotator cuff and was lost for the season.
The Raiders followed up their week one win by running into a buzzsaw in the Kansas City Chiefs. After a quick start the Raiders gave up four second quarter touchdown passes to reigning NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes, en route to a 28-10 loss at home.
In week three the Raiders hit the road for the first of a six week road trip. First stop, Minnesota. The Raiders picked up where the left off in week two. They were completely outclassed for four quarters, losing badly 34-14.
The next road test came in the form of the Indianapolis Colts. Lucky for the Raiders, the Colts were dealing with injuries to several key players including Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton and linebacker Darius Leonard. The Raiders were able to take advantage of the Colts misfortunes and get out of town with a 31-24 win.
Overall it’s been and up and down start to the season, evidence of the 2-2 start.
Offensive and defensive ranks
After four games the Raiders offense ranks 20th in total yards with 1,343. The passing attack ranks 24th (840 yards) and the ground game 9th (503 yards). The offense is averaging 19.8 points a game, good for 21st overall.
Derek Carr averages 222 yards passing per game with six touchdowns and three interceptions. Carr is completing 72.1% of his passes which is great but that is partly due to low average depth of attempt.
Josh Jacobs is off to a great start, gaining 307 yards (ranked 9th) with two touchdowns. Jacobs has been as good as advertised, showing abilities as a dual threat back.
Darren Waller leads the Raiders in receiving with 320 yards on 33 receptions. Waller is third among all tight ends in yardage behind only Travis Kelce and Evan Engram.
Tyrell Williams leads the team with four touchdowns — one in each game. He’s the only player in the NFL this season to have a touchdown in each game.
Defensively, the Raiders rank 10th in total yards allowed with 1,542. With the exception of week three the run defense has been a bright spot for the unit, they currently rank 16th, giving up 104.5 yards per game on the ground. The achilles heel for the defense has been against the pass, ranking 28th.
Two areas where the defense has struggled is generating a pass rush and turnovers. With only five sacks the Raiders are on pace for 20 on the season. Against the Colts the defense forced a fumble and an interception but that was only the second and third turnovers on the year.
Highlights of the first quarter
First touchdown of the season in week one, Carr to Williams.
Clelin Ferrell gets first NFL sack
Josh Jacobs breaks off a 50-yarder in week two
Trevor Davis first game with Raiders takes it 60 yards to the house
Colts defense bit hard on the fake toss action. Davis with the speed and some good blocking by Waller. pic.twitter.com/0MB8v2WIWc— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) September 30, 2019
Erik Harris pick six seals the deal in week four
What to expect in the next four
Things won’t get any easier in the second quarter of the season. Sure the bye week in week six will help heal some aching bodies but this very well could be the toughest four game stretch of the season.
Starting this weekend in London the Raiders will face an elite defense in the Bears, which I don’t have to remind anyone is led by Khalil Mack. As previously mentioned the bye week occurs upon returning home from across the pond and then the Raiders go back on the road for two more weeks at Green Bay and Houston, ouch.
Finally returning for a home game in week nine, the Raiders welcome the Lions to the Coliseum. If they could somehow go .500 in the next four that would be considered a victory.