Let's deep dive into the advanced stats that stood out this week.
Play action, and RPOs come alive.
The Raiders’ offense has been immune to play-action passing. With former coach Jon Gruden as the play-caller, The offense used play fakes on 11.5 percent of their dropbacks which was dead last in PFF metrics. Insert Greg Olson, and that all changed on Sunday.
When facing the Broncos, the Raiders used play-action pass at a 31% rate, a season-high. The best part about this is most of these were not your traditional brand of play-action passing. The Raiders used RPOs on 3 of those dropbacks as well. While the numbers weren't staggering or mind-blowing, it helps the offensive line and gives quarterback Derek Carr cleaner pockets.
Having your quarterback be more comfortable in the pocket is paramount to the success of your football team as a whole. The Raiders kept Carr about as clean as they could on Sunday, and the play-action and RPOs were a big reason why.
Ruggs's deep pass efficiency.
Second-year wide receiver Henry Ruggs was talked about as a draft bust after the Raiders 2020 season. Many thought he would never be a fit and wrote him off. Six games into this year, Ruggs is 15th in receiving yards and averaged 22.3 yards per reception.
Ruggs is second in receptions, yards, and completion percentage on passes 20 yards or more using PFF analytics. The former Alabama wide receiver finished last season with five receptions on deep throws and already has seven on the season with two touchdowns. His completion percentage has gone up from 33% the previous year to 58% in six games. According to PFF, he is second in contested catches.
Ja'Marr Chase and Henry Ruggs are dominating on the deep ball pic.twitter.com/bGo5OeNeZT— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) October 18, 2021
The growth from the former first-round pick to what could be a number 1 receiver is impressive to see. The connection with Carr grows every time they step onto the field, and the quarterback trusts him to make plays. There is still room for improvement, but the upside is sky-high.
Mad Maxx Continues to dominate.
It sure does feel as if pass-rusher Maxx Crosby makes this column every week. The former fourth-round pick put together another memorable performance vs. the Broncos as he continues to emerge as an elite pass rusher.
According to PFF, Crosby added 12 pressures to his yearly total. He had three sacks on the day, giving all types of issues to the Broncos offensive line. After this performance, he leads the league in total pressure with 43 and is number 1 in win rate percentage using PFF metrics.
When teams have a consistent pass rush, such as the Raiders, it helps clean up things in the back end. The injuries in the secondary are piling up, and they need players like Crosby to carry the load by harassing the passer.
Pass coverage eliminating the deep ball.
Many media around the NFL landscape see defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme as outdated and prefer the designs of Brandon Staley or Vic Fangio. The Raiders deploy a simple cover three scheme, but one area it eliminates is deep passes at a high level.
According to PFF, Denver quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was 1-8 on passes 20 yards or more in the air. The secondary is 6/33 for the season on those same throws, with an 18% completion percentage. There hasn't been a single touchdown scored with two interceptions. All of this adds up to a YPA of 6.5 and a passer rating of 29.22.
SIS has the secondary with a deserved catch percentage of 36.4% coming into the week when targeted 20 yards or more. Teams have to be meticulous and take what the defense gives you to beat the Raiders.