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Raiders living by 3rd down, dying by it

An interrogation of the evidence from the source

New Orleans Saints v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

(If Verbal Kint aka Keyser Soze was explaining the Raiders 2020 season to a football detective and there was a big board of IMDb pages behind the cop.)

I used to know a cop, actually. He had one earring, name was Somerset. I remember he once told this other guy, Griffin Mill, when they were attempting to break Stanley Goodspeed out of Alcatraz: “You either get busy livin’, or you get Busy Phillips.”

Busy Phillips could open any lock, a skill she learned growing up in Dawson’s Creek before she moved to Cougar Tow-

Agent Younghoe Koo-jan: Stop stalling.

I’m not stalling! I have immunity, you can’t touch me. I’m wearing red. I once knew a girl named Vivian, looked great in a red dress but she was easily frightened. All you had to do was snap a ring box at her and she’d jump like a cricket in a matchbox.

Get to the game. What happened in Las Vegas on Monday night?

Vivian actually moved to Vegas, married this guy named Danny Ocean. Can you believe that? With a name like Ocean, why are you living in the desert? I used to know this guy, he’d say “Get busy liv—”

The game! You said you were going there to stop third downs on the boat.

Yes. We were tipped off by this guy Redfoot out of Barstow. Also went by “Zed” but Zed’s dead. He prefers to go by Redfoot now. He told us there would be a large cache of third down stops, that the Saints had only gone 5-of-15 on third downs the week before against Tompa Bay. But they brought this other guy, this specialist who had worked on the vice unit down in Miami: Philip Michael Thomas. People also called him “Tubbs” when he was in a barbershop quartet down in Skokie, Illinois. He was the reason we couldn’t get off the boat stopping third downs. But nobody had heard from Tubbs in thirty years ...

That’s not what I heard, Verbal. What I heard is that there was no Michael Thomas on that boat Monday night.

No, he must’ve been there. I know he was. We were under attack all night, he had to have been there.

There was no Michael Thomas on that boat!

Yes there was! (Crying)

You’re so stupid, Verbal. You’re dumb and you’re weak and you’re stupid.

(Crying more) Yes, I am dumb and stupid.

Derek Carr took the shot, didn’t he? It was his idea to lead the Raiders to converting 10 of 17 third downs on Monday night, wasn’t it?

(Weeping, weeping) Yes. It was all him. Him and Darren Waller-Bridge, this fleabag I used to know before he became my boss Needles in the future year of 2015. (Weeping, weeping.) He’s the one who has caught five of seven targets on third down for 37 yards and four first downs. He’s the one tied for fourth in the NFL in first downs achieved. Boo-hoo-hoo.

There you go, Verbal. You’re weak, remember that.

And stupid, Agent Koo-jan. But I do know one thing: the Raiders also converted six of 11 third downs against the Panthers in Week 1 and their two week total of 57.1-percent is the second-highest third down rate in the NFL.

What happened on the other side of the ball though? Las Vegas may be the city of trees—

Uhhh, not Las Vegas, maybe when they were in Oakl-

But on Monday it was more like the city of Brees. The Saints converted seven-of-11 third down attempts and now the Raiders have allowed teams to convert 58.3-percent of their third downs, worst rate in the league. Now let me tell you again since you didn’t hear me the first time: There was no Michael Thomas on that boat!

Are you going to call me stupid and weak again? Speaking of 7-11, I used to know these two clerks back in Jersey, Dante and Randal. Never saw them again either but I still hear from the store owner from time to time. He used to be fat, like Orca fat, now he’s thin but wearing the same size of clothing.

Just get to the point.

The Raiders are second in the NFL in third down offense and 32nd in third down defense.


Derek Carr is 15-of-18 for 163 yards, two touchdowns and a 141.4 rating on third downs. On third and 7+, Carr is 5-of-6 for 74 yards with three first downs achieved. This is not too dissimilar to last season when he had a passer rating of 127.4 on third downs, much higher than his rating on first and second down, which was 91.

And the defense?

They were 26th in this category last season, so 32nd is at least not that surprising. Because they are 31st in sacks through two games and allowing 8.1 yards per pass attempt and 4.9 yards per carry, the defense hasn’t shown immediate progress yet but it is also one of the youngest defenses in the NFL and featuring several new starters who may only be starting to grasp their assignments and to understand each other.

Wow, Verbal, it’s like you’re finally forming coherent sentences. Unfortunately, your bail posted 15 minutes ago, Captain Wilber wants you out of my office immediately.

I once won a bunch of money down in Vegas on a horse named Bamboo Harvester.

At the track?

No, on the poker table! His owner, a man named Wilbur, had let it slip that I could just use peanut butter to get him to talk. Two jars of Skippy later, I could tell he was bluffing on the river.

I really need you to get the hell out of my office.

You don’t want to hear about Cam Newton and New England’s fourth ranked third down offense next week?


/Verbal gets up from the chair, turns towards the door and opens it to walk away to freedom. He looks back at agent Koo-jan one more time.

Fuckin’ analytics experts.

10 minutes later...

/Agent Koo-jan surveys the scene, sipping Bang energy drink out of a Burger King specialty cup that they sold in 1995 to promote the movie Batman Forever. Finally he notices on the IMDb message board behind him (this whole scene took place inside the internet) and drops the mug when he notices that the actor Peter Greene played both Redfoot in The Usual Suspects and Zed in Pulp Fiction. The mug smashes on the ground into a half-dozen pieces and we zoom in on one fraction of the ceramic to reveal a picture of Drew Brees as Harvey Dent. The realization hits: the whole story was made up. Brees is not a football player for the Saints at all, actually. He’s Tommy Lee Jones. The whole NFL is revealed to be one long anthology based mini-series that’s been running for 100 years and every player is played by an actor. It’s only when the masks are taken off do you see that the whole league was a farcical play and the Raiders aren’t dead last in third down defense after all.

There is no third down.

Koo-jan runs out to find Verbal Kint and to ask him how this season ends, but it’s too late. He’s transformed himself and left the station, getting picked up on the corner in a long black and silver town car. The face of the driver is revealed to be Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is either acting in everything or writing everything these days (she has a partial story credit on this article for SB&P), and the identity of Kint is shown to be Mark Davis. They look at each other and Phoebe speaks first.

“The NFL...”

“It was the perfect crime.”