Fuck You Graham Cracker Defense

All the way up to 13th ranked scoring defense. I don't think I've seen that this late in the season in like 20 years.
Playing the punchless Giants and Jets helps, but the D does seem to be playing better.

Sure sucked against the Bears. That was bad.

Lions worked us, but they have a damned good O with plenty of speed.

Fins are going to be a test.
We would’ve said the same of da Bears had the Raiders won that one.

them too. Outside of Bills, Chargers, and Lions we have played the worst offenses in the league so far so I wouldn't put too much stock in our D rating. We certainly are better than we've been in a while but we have also played some dogshit offenses, there are a lot of them this year.
This was the game I wanted to attend, mainly to go to Miami. Shame they scheduled it so close to Thanksgiving.
One of these days I will...

Raiders defense playing much better than expected with youngsters, little-known veterans

By Tashan Reed
57m ago

HENDERSON, Nev. — Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel was confused. The leader of an offense that entered Sunday’s contest against the Las Vegas Raiders first in scoring, total yards and offensive EPA per game couldn’t figure out what the opposing defense was throwing his way.

“There were times that we were changing the play based on unanticipated defensive personnel changes,” McDaniel said Sunday. “They were trying to keep us off balance and not have a pattern. So, there were a couple of times that we were late in the play clock.”

The Raiders held the Dolphins to just 20 points, 10.5 points lower than Miami’s per-game average. It wasn’t enough to get the win — the Raiders lost 20-13 — but it was another impressive performance for a defense that’s trending in the right direction.

Coming into the season, second-year defensive coordinator Patrick Graham stood out as a potential scapegoat. The Raiders defense was awful last season, and it appeared in the offseason as if they hadn’t made many significant additions on his side of the ball. Another rough year could put Graham’s job in jeopardy.

But Graham has put together the best defense the Raiders have had in years. The unit is allowing just 20.5 points per game, which is 13th in the league. That’s the Raiders’ best mark since 2002, which was the last season in which they won a playoff game.

Raiders' defensive turnaround
Points per game allowed24.6 (26th)20.5 (13th)
Total yards per game allowed365.6 (28th)342.3 (21st)
Yards per play allowed5.8 (27th)5.3 (20th)
Defensive scoring rate allowed42.5% (26th)37.3% (14th)
Takeaways per game0.76 (last)1.27 (T-19th)
Defensive EPA per play-0.07 (30th)0.02 (16th)

“We’ve just got to keep improving,” defensive end Maxx Crosby said. “You see what we’re doing. We’re getting better. We’re playing as a unit and flying to the ball. And it’s about the things that don’t show up in a stat sheet. Good defenses fly to the damn ball and impose their will on offenses. No matter who we play, I’m confident with those guys going out there, and I expect success.”

The defense still has its warts — it’s struggling to stop the run, tackle consistently, get stops on third down and prevent touchdowns in the red zone — but it’s been much better than expected.

“It starts with the coaches understanding who our personnel is and playing to the strengths of our personnel,” interim coach Antonio Pierce said Monday. “And buying into what we’re doing. That’s the big thing. …

“As you start to have success as a team and as individuals, you start to believe in what the coordinator is saying and how he’s setting certain things up. Patrick Graham has done an outstanding job with that each and every week. … It all starts coming together. And you start building this tight-knit group (that has) pride for one another and doesn’t want to let each other down.”

Graham has been mixing it up​

From a personnel standpoint, the Raiders lean heavily toward groupings with extra defensive backs. They’ve been in nickel on 79.6 percent of their snaps (fifth in the league) and have had at least five defensive backs on the field for 597 snaps (fourth). Comparatively, they have just 102 snaps with three or more linebackers on the field (29th).

However, there’s a great deal of variation in what the Raiders run. They’ve blitzed on 27.2 percent of opponents’ dropbacks (13th), which is a decent rate, but it’s not that far off from the league average of 25.8 percent.

In pass coverage, the Raiders have been a zone-heavy team. They’ve played zone 74.8 percent of the time (ninth) and man coverage just 18.4 percent of the time (25th). They’ve played 45 snaps of Cover 2 (T-16th), 143 snaps of Cover 3 (fourth), 63 snaps of Cover 4 (T-11th) and 24 snaps of Cover 6 (20th). They’ve lined up in two-high safety coverage for 129 snaps (17th) and one-high safety coverage for 189 snaps (11th).

As McDaniel indicated, Graham’s variety makes it difficult for opposing offenses to predict what the Raiders are going to do. The tradeoff, of course, is that it’s harder for the defenders to learn. The Raiders did a little bit of everything last year, too, but it wasn’t as effective since the players weren’t as familiar with the system.

Now that the defenders have a firmer grasp of what Graham wants, things are starting to come together.

The pass rush has been decent​

Crosby has been arguably the best overall defensive end in football and is having his best season as a pass rusher with 10.5 sacks (T-fifth), 63 pressures (first) and 16 quarterback hits (T-ninth). His success comes as no surprise, but the question going into the season was whether Crosby would get enough help for the collective pass rush to consistently impact games.

That seemed unlikely when defensive end Chandler Jones left the team right before the start of the season and was subsequently released after his arrest for violating a temporary protection order for domestic violence. But Jones’ replacements, like edge rusher Malcolm Koonce, defensive tackles Jerry Tillery, Adam Butler, John Jenkins and Bilal Nichols, and linebacker Robert Spillane, have all contributed.

The pass rush remains far from sensational, but it’s enough to get by.

Spillane has been a huge surprise​

Despite playing through a broken hand since Week 8, Spillane has been one of the better linebackers in football. He has 94 tackles (T-11th), a pressure rate of 34.2 percent (sixth) and 2.5 sacks. He was a liability in pass coverage for the first five seasons of his career. Still, he has three interceptions (T-sixth) and has an allowed passer rating of just 63.8 (third among linebackers), according to Pro Football Reference.

Spillane, who had never been a full-time starter before this season, received a two-year, $7 million contract this offseason and has dramatically exceeded expectations. With Divine Deablo, who’s second on the team with 66 tackles, as his running mate, the Raiders’ linebacking corps is in good shape.

The secondary has kept a lid on passing offenses​

The Raiders have allowed opposing passers a 67.8 percent completion rate (23rd), but they’ve given up just 210 passing yards per game (11th) and only 6.8 yards per attempt (12th) because they’ve done an excellent job of limiting explosive plays (completions of 16 yards or more) downfield. The Raiders have allowed just 38 explosive completions (seventh) this season. Opponents have only connected on 38.6 percent of their pass attempts that have traveled 15 or more air yards (eighth).

On the back end, safeties Tre’von Moehrig and Marcus Epps have been disciplined, quick to react and rarely out of position. Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Jakorian Bennett entered the season as starters, but both have struggled. That’s been balanced out by Amik Robertson, who has played well since he took over as a starter for Bennett due to injury, and nickelback Nate Hobbs, who has been excellent when healthy.

The group also has been adept at taking the ball away. The Raiders have 10 interceptions (T-eighth), which marks the first time they’ve had double-digit interceptions in a season since 2020.

Along with contributions from veteran newcomers, the young talent has developed​

The Raiders defense has four starters who weren’t on the roster last year: Jenkins, Spillane, Peters and Epps. They’ve all played significant roles in the defense’s growth, but the unit wouldn’t be playing this well without the development of several youngsters.

Robertson, Moehrig, Koonce and Deablo are all starters who have made sizable strides since last season. They deserve credit for the work they’ve put in to improve, but so do Graham and his defensive coaching staff. The same goes for them getting Jenkins and Spillane to play the best ball of their careers.

The defensive rookie class has been underwhelming to this point. Defensive end Tyree Wilson has been ineffective, Bennett doesn’t look ready to start yet and safety Chris Smith II and defensive tackles Byron Young and Nesta Jade Silvera haven’t been able to get on the field. But perhaps they, too, can turn the corner this offseason.

It’s too early to make final evaluations since the Raiders still have six games to play, but Graham deserves a lot of credit for his ability to adjust and his development of players. He should be strongly considered to be retained as defensive coordinator regardless of who becomes the next Raiders head coach.

While the Las Vegas offense has been stuck in a rut for most of the season, the defense has kept the team in range of the playoffs. The margin for error is slim at 5-6, but the unit has given the team a shot.
Defense has been playing surprisingly well.

But....(there's always a but with this team).....I'd pump the brakes just a little bit on thinking we've turned the corner and are on the way to being an upper echelon D.

Honestly, felt that although we shut down the punchless Jets and Giants and looked much improved in doing so....well, I just couldn't be too impressed.

Fantastic effort to limit the Fins to 20. The turnovers, 4th down stop, getting off the field, and just the general intensity we brought all day....man, that was sweet.

Still, I've got to see more before I'm convinced. We might be on to something though.

Might as well keep the momentum going and shut down Mahomo and company this week. ;)
I remember earlier in the season when they asked McDoofus about the lack of turnovers. He said we are doing a lot, everyone is punching at the balls the other team just isn’t dropping them. Looks like he was right about something lol