Yes, it’s only week 2…and yes, we did just get done playing the Jaguars. Still, Raiders fans have to be optimistic about how the first two weeks of the season have gone. I’ve been seeing a lot of numbers thrown around for the Raiders’ surprising success, so I thought I would share them with you and see which ones are likely sustainable throughout the season.
Oakland has nine sacks through 2 games, in a four-way tie for first in the league.
I wrote before the Raiders’ first game that the defense was likely to surprise a lot of people. Allen and Tarver ran an incredibly vanilla defense in the preseason that caused many people to think that the team heavily regressed over the offseason, but Tarver’s activation package has worked brilliantly. For a team that supposedly had the worst pass rush of all time, Tarver has come up with an amazing defensive scheme that allows the entire defense to rush the passer through selective blitzing. Four of the sacks have come from the secondary, but again, this is by design. The defensive line is more solid than spectacular, but solid is a far step up from what it has been the past few years. I expect this to work very well for us all season, and hopefully it will continue Monday night against a beat-up Broncos offensive line.
Oakland has punted a league-low six times, but their net average of 44.2 yards per punt is good enough for seventh-best.
While there is still work to be done in the special teams of the Raiders, the early signs are very encouraging. The fact that Oakland has only had to punt six times through two games is incredibly exciting, but likely not going to be sustained as the offense continues to grow. King still has a booming leg, but you can tell that he is still working on pinning teams inside the 20; only one of his six punts have been downed inside the 20 yard line. There are also some holding concerns that Raiders fans haven’t had to deal with in over a decade, as Sea Bass has seemed to struggle a bit more than usual in adjusting to a new kicker. Although there is work to be done, the early signs of turning to King over Kluwe seem to have paid off.
Oakland’s rushing attack is first in the league in a number of key categories.
It’s nice to see Oakland at the top of the rushing charts again, but I feel like this stat is likely to regress over the course of the season. Still, for a team down two left tackles, this has to be an encouraging sign. The Raiders have averaged a staggering 198.5 yards per game on the ground, a distant first (the Eagles are in second with 176.0), but what is most encouraging is that their yards per attempt is also first (5.9 yards per attempt, compared to second place’s 5.2). With the Redskins being cautious with RG3 and the rest of last year’s read-option teams slowing down their running attack, the Raiders have jumped to be this year’s rushing force. It will be an interesting test against Denver’s first-ranked rushing defense, to say the least.