It has become increasingly clear that a vast split currently divides RaiderNation: a new quarterback, and those prioritizing defenders. Although imagining Deshawn Watson or Russell Wilson in the Silver and Black, many let the spotlight shine brighter on facts and ignore a much bigger issue. The Raiders need to address the defense first.
In 2020, the Las Vegas Raiders ranked 30th in overall points allowed, allowing less than the Detroit Lions and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two, yes two, teams allowed more points than Las Vegas. The two teams have a combined record of 6-26, yet here the Raiders sit at 8-8. Las Vegas would also rank 30th in the league for takeaways, with the only teams lower than them being the Lions and the Houston Texans (9-23 combined record).
The Raiders defense has a sponge-like porousness while their offense ranks around top-10, and yet there remains a strong desire to sell the Raiders future picks and current quarterback, solely to bring in a superstar quarterback tasked with not only picking up where Derek Carr left off, but catalyzing enough points to make up for an atrocious defense, which would not have much cap space remaining to acquire more assistance post-trade.
Diving back into the stats, only two 2020 playoff teams ranked in the bottom twelve for yards allowed: the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns. Two teams that were far more defensive in 2019, but that is not the only similarity between the two, as both teams’ biggest stars are anything but quarterbacks. Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt regularly helped keep draining, time-consuming drives alive with their legs while allowing their quarterback to fall significantly below the top 12 passing leaders.
While this is beginning to sound like a case for a superstar quarterback, stay tuned. In 2020, the Las Vegas Raiders recorded the eighth-most yards in the NFL, through injuries and COVID, the players on the 2020 roster fell just 540 yards short of holding the top spot. Now, we return to our two playoff teams, the Titans and Browns, to compare.
As one may expect with a 2000 yard rusher on the roster, the Tennessee Titans finished third in total yards with, once again, Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. Considering this, one may assume the Browns to be close behind, right? That actually could not be much further from the truth, as the Browns would end up ranked 16th in total yards.
People lie, stats do not. If anyone were ranked 30th (out of 32) in something and 8th in another (provided these two categories correlate to lead to success) why would anyone insist on devoting almost the entirety of their time trying to strengthen their strengths to make up for what the bottom-tier category lacks?