Midseason Report Card

Everyone likes to grade at the halfway point, but how do you assign a grade without being too arbitrary?

I’ll do two grades. One is based on NFL yardage rankings and the other I will adjust (arbitrarily) based on what I thought were reasonable expectations coming into the season and other key stats, such as touchdowns, etc.

NFL rankings:
1-6 = A
7-12 = B
13-18 = C
19-24 = D
25-32 = F
(+ for being in the top 2 for each tier and – for being in the bottom 2 of the tier, except for an F grade.)

Passing Offense:
NFL Grade: F
My Grade: F

Analysis: The Raiders spent all offseason working on the passing offense. It seems that all that work actually made them worse. The passing offense ranks second to last at 122.1 yards per game. If it wasn’t for the equally bad Browns passing offense (121.5 ypg), this team would be in dead last. It isn’t even close as the Kansas City Chiefs are third to last with 150.3 yards per game passing. The team is also dead last, with just two passing touchdowns.

It is difficult to defend JaMarcus Russell, impossible in fact, but keep this in mind, a whole lot more than a bad quarterback goes into such a woeful passing offense. Rookie receivers, bad pass blocking and blitz pickup, etc.

Rushing Offense:
NFL Grade: D-
My Grade: F

Analysis: McFarBush, what a disappointment. The strength of the team was supposed to be the rushing attack. Three good running backs, an improved offensive line, and a head coach who used to be the offensive line coach. The same offensive line coach credited with turning around the entire putrid group two years ago.

The Raiders have only rushed for 93.6 yards-per-game. That is 25th in the league. The Raiders have rushed for four touchdowns, which don’t quite put them in the league basement in that category, but it hardly productive at just 1 rush touchdown every other game.

At 25th, the Raiders rushing offense barely avoids an F grade by NFL standards, but with such lofty expectations, this Raiders rushing attack gets an F from me. Sure, Gallery and McFadden got hurt, but the whole point of McFarBush was so there wouldn’t be injury concerns. You could make a case that Robert Gallery was the key cog in the entire rushing attack and a case could be made for that. The Raiders rushed for nearly 150 yards against the Chargers in Gallery’s only full game this season. Still, you expect better with Tom Cable around.

I could be too harsh, because getting down 21 points early makes it difficult to rush the ball. However if that was the case, how come the Raiders rank 26th in yards per rush (an F grade)?

Passing Defense:
NFL Grade: C+
My Grade: C+

Analysis: With Nnamdi Asomugha on one side, you expect this unit to be pretty good. With a few exceptions it has been a solid group. Huff looks like he has elevated his play and Tyvon Branch has emerged as a very good player. Both Routt and Chris Johnson have had their ups and down. They get plenty of opportunities to shine, but also plenty of opportunities to fail.

If the Raiders would allows Asomugha to shadow the oppositions best receiver, I’d be willing to bet this group would improve on this C+ ranking. When the pass rush is working, this unit is also much better, but the pass rush can only be effective when the Raiders aren’t way behind.

Rushing Defense:
NFL Grade: F
My Grade: D-

Analysis: The most touchdowns in the league given up on the ground and ranked 29th in yardage given up. Is this a product of the Raiders getting down early and blown out often? Yes and yes. The Raiders have been run on more than any other team with 36 attempts per game.

They still haven’t been good, ranked 22nd in the league in yards per attempt allowed. You’d think this number would be better considering the Raiders know the opposing team is running the ball when they are up by two or three touchdowns.

The Raiders are also not immune to the big play having given up 10 rush plays for 20+ yards, which is also tied for last. The secondary must be a good job of tackling, because the Raiders haven’t given up a single 40+ yard rush play all season.

The problem seems to be that of consistency across multiple positions. One of the line or linebackers always seem to be playing poorly against the run, or in some cases both.

Special Teams:
Kicking:
NFL Rank: C
My Rank: C

Field Goals:
NFL Rank: A+
My Rank: A+

Punting:
NFL Rank: A+ (Lechler is a god)

Kick Returns:
NFL Rank: F

Punt Returns:
NFL Rank: F

Kick Coverage:
NFL Rank: A-

Punt Coverage:
NFL Rank: A

Overall:
Offense: F
Defense: D
Special Teams: C

Final Analysis: I guess I was surprised how good the kick coverage has actually been. In terms of punt coverage, obviously Lechler plays a huge role. However, Seabass’ mediocre kicking hasn’t hindered the kick return coverage team’s ability to stuff people deep. Of course, with the worst offense in the league, the kick return coverage unit hasn’t had to deal with this scenario often enough to know how good the coverage really is.

Obviously, the offense has been horrible in every game and the defense terrible in about half the games. Between eight terrible offensive games and four terrible defensive ones, that averages out to about 2-6, the Raiders current record.

There isn’t a lot of hope in the second half of this season. The most you can expect from the Raiders in the second half is maybe three wins. Two wins is a better bet, four or more would be a small miracle based on the Raiders play through eight games.

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