By Kevin Saito @Kevin_Saito on July 2, 2014
A busy offseason has left the Raiders a vastly improved club in terms of talent, but will that infusion of veteran leaders like Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, combined with young playmakers like Khalil Mack and Sio Moore, translate into more than four wins in 2014?
For Oakland to have any chance to succeed and possibly reach the postseason in 2014, these 10 numbers absolutely must improve.
Behind the highly inconsistent Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, the Raiders had the 25th-ranked passing attack in the NFL last season, clocking in with an anemic 208.8 yards per game. With steadier quarterback play expected from veteran Matt Schaub and/or rookie Derek Carr, we should expect that number to rise. In a passing-oriented league like the NFL, it needs to.
The Raiders checked out of 2013 having scored a meager total of 322 total points for the season, or roughly, a tick over 20 points per game. To compete in a league that is increasingly filled with high-powered offenses, Oakland will need to get to the end zone a lot more often than they have in years past. Being 24th in scoring offense again will make for a very long and unsuccessful season.
Speaking of defending against the pass, Oakland's secondary gave up a whopping 33 TDs through the air last season. Shockingly, they were only the second-worst defense in the league at that. Oakland cannot afford to let opposing offenses score at will. If the defensive backs can't keep the receivers out of the end zone, the Raiders can kiss any thought of the playoffs goodbye very quickly.
You can't extend drives or establish an offensive rhythm if you can't keep the chains moving. All too often last season, we saw the Raiders stall out, unable to keep an offensive drive alive. That is reflected in their dismal 35 percent third-down conversion rate. That number must improve to allow the offense to build rhythm, as well as to help keep the defense off the field and fresh.
Given the dearth of talent on the roster last season, it's surprising that Oakland was even near the middle of the pack in defensive sacks. But their 38 were 'good' enough for the 18th most in the league in 2013. However, the defense will need to up that total significantly and be a disruptive, destructive force to opposing offensive game plans. Constant pressure on the QB will yield big rewards in the team's passing defense.
44 is the number of sacks Oakland's offensive line gave up in 2013, tied for 10th most in the league. For the Raiders' offense to succeed in 2014, it is critical that the line be able to handle physical defenses, protect their quarterbacks, and give them time in the pocket. An extra second or two will give a savvy vet like Schaub all the time he needs to dissect a defense.
The Raiders gave up a whopping 453 total points in 2013. Their 28.3 points per game average was the fourth-most in the league, and helps explain why they finished 4-12 for the second consecutive season. Oakland must clamp down on defense and keep other teams out of the end zone for more often than they did last season if they have any hope of success in 2014.
As a unit, the Raiders defense gave up a total of 4,092 passing yards in 2013. The 256 yards per game average made them the fifth-worst defense against the pass in the NFL last season. Oakland is looking to get production from veteran adds Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rogers, and also hope that youngster D.J. Hayden will finally contribute. Simply put, the Raiders cannot afford to have one of the most porous secondaries in the league again.
While not the worst unit in the NFL, Oakland gave up a very healthy 5,819 yards to opposing offenses. Giving up roughly 364 yards per game, especially when their offense was producing significantly less yardage, is not going to get it done -- not by a long stretch. If the Raiders hope to return to prominence in the NFL, or at least claw their way back to respectability, they will need to drastically reduce that number.
It's a long held truism that teams who don't hold on to the ball tend to not do very well in the NFL. The Raiders are but one of many examples of that truism in action. Oakland was on the wrong end of the turnover differential to the tune of -9 in 2013. Nothing kills drives like a turnover, as we saw frequently in 2013. It's critical that the Raiders learn to protect the ball and win the turnover battles far better than they did last season.
December 25, 2014 by Brian Kalchik
Here are the 10 greatest players on each NFL team's history. Read More
December 25, 2014 by Aaron Charles
Another year, another Week 17 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers with huge playoff implications. Read More
December 24, 2014 by Kevin Saito
The Raiders are trending in the right direction, but still have areas of need. Here are their five biggest needs ahead of the 2015 draft. Read More
December 24, 2014 by RantSports Staff
Previewing the Week 17 matchup between the Bengals and Steelers. Read More
Previewing the Week 17 matchup between the Rams and Seahawks. Read More
Previewing the Week 17 matchup between the Cardinals and 49ers. Read More
December 24, 2014 by Terri Washington
The NFL Pro Bowl does nothing for anyone. Everyone hates it and here is why. Read More
Previewing the Week 17 matchup between the Raiders and Broncos. Read More
Previewing the Week 17 matchup between the Lions and Packers. Read More
Previewing the Week 17 matchup between the Saints and Buccaneers. Read More
Previewing the Week 17 matchup between the Eagles and Giants. Read More
Previewing the Week 17 matchup between the Panthers and Falcons. Read More