The Oakland Raiders, on paper at least, have a Super Bowl caliber offense. Derek Carr put up big numbers before getting hurt late last season and the addition of Marshawn Lynch, in theory, improves their running game.
But the Raiders, who might be the AFC's No. 2 or No. 3 team overall, had problems on the defensive side of the football, not least of all their pass rush. If the Raiders want to get past the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers come playoff time, they're going to need to disrupt Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger more frequently than they did opposing QBs a year ago.
|Sacks||Sack %||QB Hits||QB Pressures|
The Raiders struggled to pressure the QB despite the presence of Kahlil Mack, one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL.
The lack of a consistent pass rush led to a lot of big plays allowed, despite the fact he Raiders were No. 2 in the league in turnovers created.
|Turnovers Created||Big Plays Allowed|
All of the above resulted in what amounts to a bad defense that allowed 375 yards per game, No. 26 in the league, 267 of that coming through the air (No. 24).
Mack is a superstar, but he needs help. SAM linebacker Bruce Irvin managed just seven sacks a year ago, but is capable of more if given more pass-rush opportunities. But after Mack'a 11 and Irvin's seven, the Raiders' sack leaders were Denico Autry and Stacy McGee with 2.5 each, and while sacks aren't the entire story of an effective pass rush, ranking dead last in sacks, QB hits, pressure and sack rate doesn't bode well for the Raiders Super Bowl hopes.
For point of reference, the Seattle Seahawks, who owned the NFL's No. 2 pass rush in terms of sack rate in 2016, had six players with three sacks or more.
Where exactly the additional pass rush is going to come from for Oakland remains to be seen. Perhaps a slight adjustment within the scheme can make a difference. Maybe better seasons from Irvin, a healthy Mario Edwards Jr., and a better interior rush from blitzes and tackles Darius Lathum and Justin Ellis will appear.
Either way, the Raiders are a good team that may be an average pass rush away from an AFC title game appearance and perhaops a Super Bowl berth.