2014 Record: 3-13, missed playoffs, 2-3 in last five
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1st: 30th in DVOA* overall offense (28th pass, 32nd rush) | 26th in DVOA* overall defense (28th pass, 14th run)
2nd: Fifth-least effective defense in the NFL against WR1s (8.3 pass attempts per game, 72.5 yards per game) and 9th- and 8th-worst in the NFL respectively against slot/bench WRs (5.5, 49.2) and RBs (7.3, 47.8), according to Football Outsiders’ defense vs. receiver types chart.
3rd: Key loss: S Tyvon Branch | Key addition: WR Amari Cooper
4th: While I’ve been trying to avoid using rookies in the key addition section of these team previews, some rookies are too irreplaceable to ignore. Cooper, the top receiver in the draft to some, gives Oakland an opportunity to groom a superstar that should help their anemic offense at least get off the ground. QB Derek Carr is a rising star, so says Sports Illustrated, and Latavius Murray will look to improve on his end-of-season performance while sharing the backfield with newcomers Trent Richardson and Roy Helu. Defensively, the Raiders’ secondary has to improve, that’s why the team cutting Tyvon Branch was so puzzling. He’s only played in five games the last two seasons, but he’s only 28 and has four 94-or-more-tackle seasons with eight career sacks and four career interceptions. Not the kind of player a reeling secondary (fifth-worst in the NFL in 2014) should give up on, especially if he was confident enough to sign a health-incentives-based contract with divisional rival Kansas City. He only played in three games last season, but amassed 30 tackles, a sack and a pass deflection in that short window.
*Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, a Football Outsiders’ advanced NFL metric, measures a team’s performance on a per-play basis. The metric attempts to limit variance and provides a more realistic measurement of how good a team is regardless of matchup or situation, making it a strong indicator of future success. Read more about DVOA.