The Las Vegas Raiders shocked the NFL landscape by starting the season 3-0. The win over the Miami Dolphins keeps them tied for first place with a big matchup against the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night.
Before the big game, let's recap the advanced stats from the win vs. the Dolphins.
Carr continues to be aggressive.
Since he averaged a YPA of 5.5 as a rookie, Derek Carr is considered a check-down artist. Fair or not, it has become the narrative around his playing style during his eight years in the league. This season the aggression has stayed consistent.
On Sunday, Carr threw ten passes over 20 yards in the air. According to PFF, He completed five of those passes for 137 yards on the day. He leads the league in deep passing attempts, completions, and passing yards. His percentage of throws 20 plus is at 16.7%, which is 4% higher than his 2017 season, previously a career-high.
Carr still has his doubters in this area even after these performances. It will have to continue throughout the season for him to change the narrative around his play.
Trayvon Mullen’s big day.
Trayvon Mullen had a fantastic finish to his rookie year that created a buzz throughout Raider Nation. He took a step back in 2021, but there were flashes in his play that displayed promise. After a good outing versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, he put together a better one against the Dolphins.
Mullen was targeted eight times on the day. According to PFF, He allowed just four receptions for a total of 33 yards and a passing rating of 60.00 on the day. When the team needed it the most, the former Clemson Tiger added two pass breakups and a huge one coming in overtime.
The Raiders have a good cornerback tandem with Casey Heyward playing at a pro bowl level on the other side. They will be tested this week against a paper-cut Chargers offense with dink and dunk passes. If he can step have another big day, the Raiders can leave LA 4-0.
Peyton Barber keeps pushing.
Peyton Barber had an underwhelming debut during Week 2, where he only average 2.5 yards per carry. He bounced back against an underwhelming run defense and put 111 yards on 23 carries. His yards after contact stands out the most.
The way Peyton Barber sets up the LBs and anticipates where the crease will open is masterful.— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 27, 2021
If he were a better athlete he would be an elite RB. pic.twitter.com/tEkEd2mLww
According to PFF, 99 of Barber's yards were after contact. He finished with 4.9 yards after contact average, which exhibits his willingness not to go down. During the game, there were plenty of scrums where Barber would keep his legs churning, allowing his lineman to push him for extra yardage. His most extensive run came in overtime, where he forced two of his three missed tackles.
Barber has shown he can be a backup for Jacobs and even added to the passing game picking up blitzes in overtime. Barber is a player you do not want starting long-term, but he showed he could fill in at the position.
Run defense continues to be steady.
While the Raiders are having issues with mobile quarterbacks, the run defense versus pure rush designs continues to thrive with the linebacker group. Teams struggle to move the ball on the ground consistently.
According to RBSDM.com, the defense was third in rush success rate Week 3 at 23%. They are number one in the NFL overall, allowing just a successful run on 21% of rushing attempts on the year. Solomon Thomas, Denzel Perryman, and KJ Wright are significant factors in the drastic change in the Raiders run defense.
Corey Littleton has left 2020 behind him where he was missing tackles left and right. He is now second in the NFL in PFF's run-stop metric compared to other linebackers in the league. The Raiders have put together a defense that can force teams to become one-dimensional.