ESNY’s Michael Nania presents the New York Jets-Oakland Raiders statistical scouting report for Week 12 of the 2019 season.
Throughout the season, I’ll be previewing the New York Jets‘ opponent each week with a look at their greatest strengths and weaknesses from a statistical standpoint.
Let’s dive into some key numbers on the Oakland Raiders heading into this Sunday’s classic AFC matchup.
Strength: Josh Jacobs
Josh Jacobs has been tremendous for the Raiders in his debut season, carrying Jon Gruden’s offense from the jump.
Oakland’s rookie phenom is ranked fourth in the league with 92.3 rushing yards per game and is tied for sixth with seven rushing touchdowns. He is on track to become the first rookie since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016 to average over 90 rushing yards per game and score more than 10 touchdowns.
The Raiders offensive line has been outstanding, ranking fourth in adjusted line yards and near the top of the league in most available offensive line metrics. However, what has made Jacobs so impressive is his ability to create even more beyond the solid blocking he has gotten.
Jacobs leads the NFL in broken tackles, with 62, and ranks fourth among qualified running backs in yards after contact per rush attempt (3.6). He leads the NFL in Pro Football Focus’ elusiveness rating (a combination of broken tackles and yards after contact) with a mark of 107.4, which would be the best mark ever recorded since the stat was first tracked in 2006.
The Jets defense (ranked No. 2 in run defense DVOA) will present a new level of difficulty for Jacobs. He has only faced one team currently ranked top-five in run defense DVOA, the fifth-ranked Vikings. In that game, Jacobs ran for a season-low 44 yards on ten carries while being held out of the end zone.
Weakness: Third and long offense
This Raiders offense, currently ranked seventh in DVOA (seventh pass, 12th run), is extremely balanced. Finding a weakness of theirs is highly difficult. In nearly every situation, every split, every scenario, they have been at least average. Jon Gruden has done a tremendous job getting the absolute most out of this group. They do not have a true weakness.
After a lot of digging, I was finally able to discover that the Raiders have struggled a bit to throw themselves out of third and long situations. Oakland has picked up a first down on 30.4 percent of passing plays on third down with seven to 10 yards to go, which ranks 22nd in the league. Ironically, Derek Carr’s total of three touchdown passes in that scenario is tied for the NFL lead (with Daniel Jones).
Ranked second in fourth-down conversion rate, third in third-down conversion rate, fourth in yards per pass play, 11th in yards per rush attempt, and 16th in red-zone conversion rate, this Raiders offense is as balanced as can be. They might not be the NFL’s most dominant attack, but they are still one of the league’s hardest to stop. There just has not been an area in which this offense has had significant trouble.
Strength: Rookie class
As difficult as it is to find weaknesses for the Raiders offense, it is difficult to find strengths for the Raiders defense.
The run defense in Oakland has been somewhat decent. They have stuffed 19 percent of opponent runs, equal to the league average and good enough for 15th in the league.
However, they have struggled on the whole against the run, ranking 22nd in both run defense DVOA and EPA.
To find positives for the Raiders defense, attention must be directed at John Lynch’s draft class.
Second-round cornerback Trayvon Mullen and fourth-round defensive end Maxx Crosby have been tremendous pickups off the bat for Oakland. Mullen has been Pro Football Focus’ 28th-ranked cornerback out of 112 qualifiers. Crosby leads the team with 11 quarterback hits and is second to Benson Mayowa with 6.5 sacks, four of which came against the Bengals last week.
Weakness: Pass coverage
Oakland has been horrible at stopping the pass. The Raiders defense, which is 23rd in pass defense DVOA, has allowed the seventh-highest passer rating (102.8), second-highest passing touchdown rate (7.0%), and the most passing plays of 20 yards or more per game (4.8).
A huge part of the problem is their lack of a pass rush. While they rank 18th in sack rate (6.8%), the Raiders are 28th in quarterback hits per game (4.5) and 29th in pressure rate (19.5%). Only one Raider is among the league’s top-70 players in either quarterback hits or pressures. That would be Crosby, who is tied for 29th in hits and 36th in pressures (33).
In coverage, the safety and linebacker positions have been huge problems.
Safeties Karl Joseph, Erik Harris, D.J. Swearinger and Curtis Riley have combined to allow an inexcusable total of nine touchdowns. In total, Raiders safeties have given up 38 catches on 55 targets for 683 yards, nine touchdowns, and three interceptions, for a passer rating of 128.3.
At linebacker, Tahir Whitehead has yielded five touchdowns, fewer than only Arizona’s Haason Reddick. Whitehead has given up a passer rating of 148.4 when targeted, worst among qualified linebackers.
Paul Guenther’s defense has really struggled outside of the Coliseum. Away from Oakland, the Raiders rank 31st in sack rate (2.8%), 31st in yards per pass play (8.2), 32nd in passer rating allowed (118.5), and 32nd in passing touchdown rate allowed (8.6%). Altogether, they check in at 31st in points per game allowed on the road (31.8), better than only the Giants.
Special Teams’ notes: Highs and lows in the return game
Oakland’s special teams unit, which is placed 19th in DVOA, has been great in some aspects and awful in others.
On the plus side, the Raiders rank fifth in the NFL with a kick return average of 26.9 yards. Dwayne Harris had a 72-yard return before going down three games into the season, and since then Trevor Davis has added a 52-yard return.
Conversely, the Raiders own the league’s third-worst punting DVOA, as they have allowed the second-most yards per punt return (10.8). Tarik Cohen burned them for 71 yards in Week 5, and altogether the Raiders have yielded eight returns of 10 yards or more.