Clelin Ferrell

Raiders snap count: Pass-rush rotation vs. Chiefs not productive enough

Raiders snap count: Pass-rush rotation vs. Chiefs not productive enough

OAKLAND -- The Raiders are employing a heavy rotation along the defensive front, something they planned for all summer. Everyone contributes in some sense, with Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Hankins as mainstays in most packages.

The Raiders still aren’t getting enough quarterback pressure, even with three sacks in Sunday’s 28-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s hard to say the Raiders impacted Patrick Mahomes comfort in the pocket, creating 11 total pressures on 46 total dropbacks. 

Analytics site Pro Football Focus deemed Mahomes under pressure just eight times, and he was 4-for-6 for 33 yards in those instances. The reigning MVP had a 139.1 passer rating without facing pressure, expected sums from such an excellent signal-caller. 

While the defensive backs took heat after Sunday’s game, it’s appropriate, and noted by a few Raiders, that the pass rush shares some of the blame for a 28-point second-quarter explosion.

“We didn’t get enough pressure,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “We let Mahomes move around back there and cock his arm, and when he gets an opportunity to do that he can drop them in there no matter where they are. I tip my hat to them and we have to do a better job next time.”

[RELATED: What went wrong in Raiders' second-quarter meltdown]

That includes the Raiders’ rotational pass rushers. Arden Key’s solid preseason hasn’t translated to regular-season success, a point clear in Week 2. He had just one quarterback pressure in 24 snaps. Maxx Crosby had just one in 29 snaps, though he was also flagged for a controversial roughing-the-passer infraction that didn’t seem appropriate.

Benson Mayowa has been the team’s most productive edge rusher, and might see his playing time increase after tallying 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble on just 18 snaps.

The Raiders might have to adjust their rotations to create more opportunities for hot hands, though it will help not having to face Mahomes each week.

Offense

Total offensive snaps: 65

Quarterback -- Derek Carr 65

Running back -- Josh Jacobs 30, Jalen Richard 20, DeAndre Washington 15, Alec Ingold 5

Wide receiver -- Tyrell Williams 61, Ryan Grant 49, Hunter Renfrow 49, Dwayne Harris 5, Keelan Doss 4

Tight end -- Darren Waller 62, Foster Moreau 15, Derek Carrier 9

Offensive line -- Jordan Devey 65, Denzelle Good 65, Kolton Miller 65, Rodney Hudson 65, Trent Brown 51, Brandon Parker 15

Defense

Total defensive snaps: 68

Defensive line -- Clelin Ferrell 58, Johnathan Hankins 58, P.J. Hall 43, Josh Mauro 38, Maurice Hurst 36, Maxx Crosby 29, Arden Key 24, Benson Mayowa 18

Linebacker -- Vontaze Burfict 72, Tahir Whitehead 63, Nicholas Morrow 17, Marquel Lee 6

Defensive back -- Daryl Worley 74, Gareon Conley 74, Lamarcus Joyner 70, Karl Joseph 48, Erik Harris 42, Curtis Riley 31, Trayvon Mullen 28, Keisean Nixon 7

Special teams

Harris 23, Kyle Wilber 22, Nixon 22, Carrier 20, Lee 19, Moreau 16, Morrow 12, Harris 12, Ingold 11, Joseph 10, Trent Sieg 8, AJ Cole 8, Crosby 8, Worley 8, Riley 5, Daniel Carlson 5, Whitehead 5, Ferrell 5, Washington 5, Burfict 5, Hurst 4, Richard 4, Hankins 4, Mullen 3, Andre James 2, Conley 2, Brown, Devey 2, Miller 2, Good 2, Parker 2, Key 1, Mayowa 1, Hall

Watch Raiders rookie Clelin Ferrell record first NFL sack vs. Broncos

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USATSI

Watch Raiders rookie Clelin Ferrell record first NFL sack vs. Broncos

Clelin Ferrell didn't give up Monday night, and the Raiders’ rookie pass rusher was rewarded with his first career NFL sack.

Midway through the fourth quarter of the NFL season opener at the Coliseum, Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco dropped back but couldn't find an open receiver.

Ferrell kept pushing and ended up sacking Flacco. Ferrell got a little help from P.J. Hall, but the No. 4 overall draft pick was credited with the sack.

Most analysts felt the Raiders reached for Ferrell at No. 4, but coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock defended their selection.

In his NFL debut, Ferrell held his own and made the Raiders’ brain trust look smart.

Five keys to Raiders exceeding expectations in upcoming NFL season

Five keys to Raiders exceeding expectations in upcoming NFL season

The Raiders were expected to win eight games last year. That was the over/under total set heading into the year, though that line was established before Khalil Mack got traded, Bruce Irvin tuned out, Amari Cooper got shipped to Dallas and injuries beset a team loaded with veteran stopgaps.

So, as you’d guess, the Raiders were far worse than .500. They only won four games, and ended up with a high NFL draft pick.

The Raiders have taken a different tact in head coach Jon Gruden’s second season, getting younger in a commitment to build through the draft.

That brings tempered expectations, with an over/under at six wins heading into the 2019 regular season.

The Raiders are young but have talent, especially on offense, making it possible to exceed expectations despite a brutal early schedule. Here are five keys for the Raiders to exceed expectations this season, which formally starts Monday night against the Denver Broncos.

Derek Carr finds vintage form

The Raiders quarterback was awesome in 2016. He was confident and in complete control that season, a 12-4 campaign where he was a legit MVP candidate. He was protected well, free to sling passes short, intermediate and deep. He was turnover averse but rarely cautious, and always seemed to come through in the clutch.

The Raiders need all that back in 2019. Carr is supremely confident in his second year under Gruden, with a cast of skill players better than the 2016 model. The line isn’t as good, and that will have an impact, but Carr’s as motivated as ever to have a career year.

A reason why that’s an achievable goal: Carr had better stats than 2016 in several areas, suggesting he can exceed those totals and find that clutch performance that helps wins games at home and on the road, even against top competition.

That’s the biggest key to this season’s success and larger than a two-game jump in the win column. As is always true with quarterbacks, Carr will be key to the Raiders taking a leap with a young team led by an experienced signal caller.

Control lines of scrimmage

The Raiders had just 13 sacks last season, and allowed 51. That’s a recipe for disaster. Their rushing attack was ho-hum, and their run defense was 30th in the NFL.

Again, that’s a recipe for disaster.

The Raiders need significantly better from offensive and defensive lines, though it’s appropriate to question whether there’s talent available to get that big job done.

The offensive front has some question marks at guard with Richie Incognito and Gabe Jackson out early, and Kolton Miller has to show improvement many expect from him this season.

The defensive line’s floor is higher than last season, but it’s ceiling still seems low. The line seems a year away from being an intimidator against the run or pass. That could be a problem for the Raiders, especially in non-shootouts.

Win the turnover battle

Bad teams turn up negative in turnover ratio. Hence, there was no shock that the Raiders were minus-seven here in 2018. They were plus-16 in 2016, when things were going right.

This may be a key of the obvious, but the Raiders must be careful with the football. Takeaways are the game changers lacking in recent seasons, and that simply has to change. It all starts with run defense, setting up obvious passing downs where fumble recoveries and interceptions come easier.

Rookie class makes instant impact

The Raiders have four rookie starters and 11 total on a young roster. Most of them have a contributing role, meaning they can’t be weak links. The Raiders need production from the first-round draft picks, especially with defensive end Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram expected to be three-down starters.

Recent Raiders drafts have been lackluster, with rookie contributions rare even from those who have become solid contributors. It’s tough to ask for a ton from new pros, but that’s required this season, with so many young players in prominent roles.

[RELATED: AB's insane catch reminder why Raiders put up with antics]

Quick start over rough terrain

The Raiders have a brutal start to the 2019 slate by any estimation. That includes the NFL schedule makers, who acknowledged that setting the Raiders off on a five-game road trip – there’s a bye in the middle, and a home game given to London – starting in Week 3 was too much. That could be a season-killing stretch with four of those road games against playoff contenders.

Finding a way to sneak out of the early schedule at .500, and healthy enough to go on a run down the stretch will be key. That could set the Raiders up to exceed six wins and surprise many with better outcomes in the relatively early phases of Gruden’s roster rebuild.