Raiders news: 5 questions with football strangers

The start of the NFL and Las Vegas Raiders season is right around the corner, which means we’re officially into preview season and mike tanier at Football Outsiders has assembled one of the best in the business. To preview the Football Outsiders Almanac, they were kind enough to answer five of my questions with data from the book to give Raider Nation a little insight into what to expect from the Silver and Black in 2022.

To get the full almanac, follow this link.

1. The Raiders were a playoff team last year and have made some big additions this offseason, including Davante Adams and Chandler Jones, but they’ve also lost or traded a few key defensemen in Casey Hayward and Yannick Ngakoue. How has the offseason changed their predicted win/loss total?

Our projection for the Raiders is almost exactly at .500: 8.6 wins. One of the reasons this may seem weak is that statistically the 2021 Raiders did not look like a 10-7 playoff team. Our “estimated wins” formula for 2021, for example, suggests they had the statistical profile of a winning team at 8.4. They topped that for a variety of reasons that I’m sure Raiders fans remember, including a pair of games against opponents affected by COVID in December (Browns up all their saves, Carson Wentz trying to play hero no vaccinated).

So the Raiders have improved this offseason, but they needed more improvement than their record suggests, and they also play in a conference where many other teams have also improved.

2. Speaking of Adams, how do you think his production will compare to his days in Green Bay, and how will his presence impact Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow?

We project a 108-1,338-9 stat line for Adams. One reason that may seem small is that Renfrow and Waller can get more of the target share than Guy Aaron Rodgers doesn’t really like No. 1 and No. 2 Green Bay. Also, our KUBIAK projections count towards injury possibility, so no player is really projected for 17 games; most players are projected for something like “15.8 games”.

As for Adams’ influence on others, the boilerplate answer is that he will open up more opportunities below. And I’m sure he will. But Henry Ruggs and later Desean Jackson have each done a fair job of keeping safeties honest in 2021. Derek Carr attempted 90 passes from over 20 Air Yards last year. Only Tom Brady has tried more!

I think Adams will make Carr a much more effective through passer. This could lead to a “rising tide” situation for everyone’s offensive numbers.

3. Same question as above but with Jones and Maxx Crosby?

Jones is a bit more likely to draw double teams away from Crosby than Yannick Ngakoue was. I also think Patrick Graham should do a great job of getting these guys fired.

4. From here, the Las Vegas secondary will be young and should be the weak point in their defense. Have they done enough to improve their passing rush to alleviate this issue, and what are your expectations for the Raiders’ defensive backs?

That’s the problem. It’s not just the cornerback corps, it’s the off-ball linebackers and the inside defensive line. They all plan to be ordinary at best, leaving the Raiders with a league average defense. The easiest way to neutralize a big pass rush is to stay “in front of the sticks”. Teams should be able to use the running game and short passing to achieve this.

5. How does Josh McDaniels’ system fit in with Derek Carr’s skills from an analytical perspective?

McDaniels has excelled over the years at adapting his system to different QBs: Young Brady (Away Bombs!), Old Brady (ultra-technical short passing!), Mac Jones (Run and Screens!), even Cam Newton/Matt Cassel/Tim Tebow (Mix in designed races!). Carr is a good decision-maker and short-to-medium passer, and I think McDaniels has a lot of concepts Carr can execute successfully (much like Jon Gruden, who liked short-to-medium passers).

One thing I expect to see is a lot of 12 staff with Waller and Foster Moreau in an effort to keep defenses in base, get the most out of the running game and create opportunities for game-action. Oh, and the really tight end could help if, say, the right tackle is struggling. It should be an effective offense. This may not be an offense poised to win many AFC shootouts.

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