Raiders' Struggles Defending the Run:
The Raiders were completely gashed by the Houston Texans’ running game last Sunday. Arian Foster picked up 138 yards on 28 carries. Considering the Patriots’ success running the football against the Vikings, look for the Patriots to deploy a similar run:pass ratio against Oakland. The Raiders, in particular, struggled against tackles in the running game with Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith both grading out negatively according to PFF (-2.6 and -3.5, respectively). Inside linebacker Miles Burris also had an abysmal -5.8 grade (-5.0 against the run).
Khalil Mack Excelling:
While the Raiders have had some struggles along their front seven, Khalil Mack has been dominant as a left outside linebacker in the 3-4. PFF had this to say following the Raiders’ week two performance against the Texans:
One of the lone bright spots on the Oakland defense, Mack showed well in all aspects of the game, grading at +2.2 against the run, +1.5 as a pass rusher, and +0.5 in coverage. He had a couple of impressive pass rushes against left tackle Duane Brownand he was constantly making plays around the line of scrimmage in the running game
Mack has lined up in multiple spots as a pass rusher for the Raiders while playing in at least 56 snaps in each of their two games. Along with Sio Moore and Charles Woodson, he is one of the main defenders the Patriots will have to game plan for.
Derek Carr’s Ups and Downs
Through two weeks, Carr remains the only rookie quarterback in the NFL to get a start. While he has had some bright moments, it is rather obvious that the Raiders are trying to limit the mistakes that he can make. The Raiders have generally relied on short quick throws for Carr, who is completing 63.5% of his throws thus far. Only 11 of his 46 completions have been 10 or more yards down the field. In addition, when not facing pressure, Carr is completing 70.5% of his passes with a PFF rating of 1.2. When blitzed, Carr has thrown two interceptions, is completing just 51.6% of his passes, has just 4.2 yards/attempt, and has a -2.8 PFF rating. These are typical stats of a rookie thrown into the fire, but are certainly worth mentioning. It’s also worth mentioning that despite the ups and downs the first two weeks have shown for Carr, the Oakland coaching staff has gone out of their way to praise his maturity and intelligence.