Oakland Raiders: Gordon, Chargers get set for bye week against Raiders

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs the ball by defensive end Solomon Thomas #94 of the San Francisco 49ers at StubHub Center on September 30, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs the ball by defensive end Solomon Thomas #94 of the San Francisco 49ers at StubHub Center on September 30, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders haven’t gotten off to a great start to the 2018 season, and that has some teams believing the Silver and Black is an easy out this year.

It’s no secret, the Oakland Raiders have gotten off to an abysmal 1-3 start, one quarter of the way through their 2018 campaign

And given the eyebrow-raising roster moves, combined with the shaky start to the season, it would appear that the honeymoon between the Raider Nation and prodigal son, Jon Gruden, is most definitely over.

To say the very  least.

More from Las Vegas Raiders News

And because of the team’s struggles and poor start, the Raiders earned the ire of one of the most loyal fanbases in all of professional sports.

Worse than that though, other teams are now starting to see them as an easy out. As more or less a second bye week on their schedule.

At least, that’s the feeling you get when you hear players like LA Chargers running back Melvin Gordon popping off, and crowing about getting a break as they get set to square off with their rivals to the north.

Robert Klemko, a writer for Sports Illustrated, is conducting a video series, in which he spends 24-hours with a player profiling them, as they prepare for the week’s game.

And included in Klemko’s most recent addition to the series are some rather eye-opening remarks from Gordon, which include the running back sounding off about not having to face Khalil Mack when the Raiders and Chargers take the field.

The big takeaway, of course, is Gordon saying he’s, “So glad we don’t gotta see Mack.”

Of course, that’s to be expected. Every team not facing Mack staring at them from across the line of scrimmage probably feels that way. And rightly so. He’s one of the most disruptive and dominant forces in all of football.

Where Gordon sticks his foot in it, and should earn the attention and derision of every Raider fan out there, is when he takes it a step further (too far), and declares that without Mack on the defensive side of the ball, he and the Chargers, “Now, I get a break.”

Yes, that’s where we are, Raider Nation – teams now see Oakland as a second bye week on their schedule. An easy out. An easy W.

Gordon’s comments are inflammatory, ignorant, and ignore the fact that the 2-2 Chargers really haven’t looked (or fared) a whole lot better than the Raiders this season, but that’s neither here nor there, we suppose.

Most will find it hard to dismiss Gordon’s comments out of hand, especially given the overall results. Sometimes though, it pays to dig a little deeper. While numbers don’t exactly lie outright, they can certainly be made to mislead, and distort the reality of a situation.

As it pertains to Gordon and LA’s run game, which is presumably what he was referencing with his ridiculous remarks, it’s hard to refute his sentiment without doing a little further digging.

While yes, the overall results of Oakland’s run defense have been terrible – they’re ranked thirtieth in overall run defense (139 yards per game), thirty-first in yards per carry average (5.6 ypc), and twenty-sixth in rushing touchdowns allowed (five), those numbers are certainly bleak.

However, those raw numbers also don’t tell the full story.

Yes, Todd Gurley of the Rams, and Phillip Lindsay of the Broncos both gashed this defense. You can make the argument that it is taking a minute to learn and successfully run DC Paul Guenther’s new system, but at the end of the day, it’s just excuses. Gurley and Lindsay torched this Raiders defense.

Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders /

Las Vegas Raiders

However, two weeks ago, this same Raiders unit held firm against a Dolphins rushing attack the came in averaging more than 120 yards per game on the ground, and limited them to just 41 total rushing yards – and 27 of those 41 yards came on Ryan Tannehill scrambles.

The stat boxes will show you that last week, the Raiders run defense gave up 205 yards on the ground to the Cleveland Browns. They’ll show you that Carlos Hyde ran for 82 yards, but rookie Nick Chubb lit it up with 105 yards on his own.

All true.

Except, when you look a little closer, you would see that Hyde needed 22 carries to achieve his 82 yards – a very pedestrian average of 3.7 yards per carry. It was Chubb who did the most damage on the ground, that helped inflate both his, and the team numbers a little bit.

Chubb had touchdown runs of 63-yards, and 41-yards that were very nearly backbreaking for the Raiders. Thankfully, they found a way to overcome it and notch the W, but those two runs were killers. And they also account for 104 of Chubb’s 105 yards, and half of Cleveland’s total rushing yards.

Oakland got torched on two plays. Two.

Raiders Achieving A Rare, Dubious Kind Of Perfection. light. Also Read

That’s on the run defense, to be sure. Bad angles to the ball, slow pursuit, and very poor tackling combined to make those long runs possible, and that is absolutely on the defense. There is no question about that, or defense of it. It is what it is.

More from Golden Gate Sports

But, it was two bad, blown, horrible plays, on a day when they run defense had done a relatively decent job of holding Cleveland’s running game – a top-give unit averaging more than 130 yards per contest, coming into the game – in check, relatively speaking.

So now Gordon, and LA’s ninth-ranked rushing offense will come in and get a “break” against Oakland’s run defense, according to him. To hear Gordon speak, we should expect him to put up Madden-on-easy-mode eye-popping numbers on the Mack-less defense.

All we can say is, we’ll see. The proof will be in the pudding, and Gordon will either be proven right, or he’ll be proven wrong, and see that even without Mack, this run defense is starting to learn how to punch people in the mouth under Guenther.

This season, for the Raiders, has turned on a handful of plays. You can go back and physically count them. This is a team that could easily be 3-1, at worst, if not for that handful of plays. But, we know, if your aunt had the right equipment, she’d be your uncle. We get it.

The point is, that although this team has struggled, and has done some mind-numbingly stupid things, this is a team that – if you give a close, fair, and objective look – is actually not all that far off from turning a corner. This is a team that isn’t quite the easy out, the sure W, or the second bye week, Gordon seems to be going on about.

Next. Florio Shows Us Raiders Can't Always Have It All. dark

And squaring off with these Raiders – though we haven’t yet seen the results we all want – is hardly the “break” Gordon thinks he’ll be getting.

With the meeting between LA’s running game, and Oakland’s run defense, not that far off now, we’re hoping to see Guenther and his defense serve up a nice steaming plate of crow for Gordon to snack on after the game.