Oakland Raiders: A Few Notable Numbers Through Two Weeks Of Play

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Michael Crabtree
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Michael Crabtree /
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Oakland RAiders
OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 17: Khalil Mack /


After the three-alarm dumpster fire last season’s pass defense was, the talk all offseason long was about whether or not they could improve it. Given Sean Smith‘s struggles – and subsequent demotion during camp – to T.J. Carrie‘s struggles filling in for him, first-round draft pick Gareon Conley‘s long absence, and second-round draft pick Obi Melifonwu hitting the injured reserve, there was a lot of doubt.

Knowing the secondary was the Achilles Heel of this defense and teams were lighting it up against the Raiders last year – they gave up an average of 258 yards passing a game, which made them the league’s twenty-fourth ranked unit.

Oakland Raiders
OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 17: Nicholas Morrow /

While it’s true, they played better and had a few solid down the stretch, the secondary was by no means formidable. They were often more liability than asset in 2016. And given the struggles the secondary had over the summer, there didn’t seem to be a lot of hope that they’d actually become the asset this defense – this team – needs them to be.

And while this is still a very small sample size, through two games this year, the pass defense looks to be much more competent and formidable than it has been over the last couple of seasons. Perhaps, some of that improvement can – and should – be attributed to the presence and coaching of John Pagano, who’s been tasked with improving communication on the back end of the defense.

Whatever the case may be, the Raiders’ secondary has been improved thus far. In two games, they’re giving up an average of 200 yards per game, through the air. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota went for 256 yards, but they held Jets signal caller Josh McCown to 166 – although, they did allow him to throw a pair of touchdowns.

Still, it seems undeniable that through two games – again, a small sample size – that the pass defense looks much improved. The real test will be forthcoming and we’ll see if this is an actual trend in the right direction or just an anomaly.