Just two seasons after the Raiders finished the year with 25 sacks and 18 sacks allowed, the team finished the 2018 season with 13 sacks and 52 sacks allowed. Both sets of statistics raise immense concern, but the difference in sacks allowed is mind-boggling.
So, what has changed in the last few years that has led to such a drastic shift? Players and coaches have come and gone, as many do, but the most significant change was the signing of Tom Cable.
When Mike Tice stepped down from his role at offensive line coach, the Raiders were allowing 1.125 sacks per game, which is less than the Super Bowl LIII Champion New England Patriots allowed in 2018. Now, the Raiders come off a season where the team allowed 3.25 sacks per game.
Cable was previously the offensive line coach for the Seahawks, and it became tradition to watch Russell Wilson scramble around the wave of defensive linemen that had a red carpet to Wilson laid out for them.
Upon Cable’s departure, the Seahawks moved from almost worst to first in the sacks allowed category. As this was happening, the Raiders were sliding from 4th in pass blocking efficiency all the way down to 29th at the end of the 2018 season.
Seahawks fans loved watching Cable’s line struggle, especially in London with the Raiders facing Seattle, and one Twitter user even going as far as calling Cable the “best defensive line coach in NFL history.” The proof of struggle is there, Pete Carroll kept Cable around long enough to give Cable enough experience to overshadow a questionable record of accomplishment.
The Carr Effect
The worst part about this move is the effect the lack of an offensive line presence has on Derek Carr. Throughout the 2018 season, Carr was shredded by media and fans alike for the teams’ offensive struggles. Carr looked scared and resorted to checkdowns. The fans craved the high-flying, explosive offense from 2016.
Perhaps it was not Carr’s fault all along. Perhaps the constant defensive pressure and scattered freak injuries finally got to him. I have seen similar instances as a cat owner. Cats have an uncanny ability to sneak up on you, and some enjoy getting quite close to my legs.
Occasionally, I will take a step varying from the direction I was heading which, like clockwork, is exactly where my cat was walking. For a while after the accident, Mittens will be hesitant to come back near my feet, and this is what I relate to Derek Carr. Carr comes out, headstrong and driven to be his best for his team week after week. Week after week, teams drop Carr to the ground time and time again. Carr begins to shrink after his first sack of the day, and with his unfortunate injuries, I find it hard to blame him.
Sure, sacks happen. Carr knows it and Cable certainly knows as well. But, the difference in Carr’s confidence when his first sack comes after he gets a few drives under his belt versus when he does not is astounding.
Only because I do not have a choice, Cable gets one more year. I am not sure what Cable plans to change so significantly in one offseason. Yet I am going to need to see change. Not only is this level of offensive line play unacceptable, it will continue to be dangerous to Derek Carr.