Despite Team Struggles, Oakland Raiders Rookies off to Great Start

This was supposed to be the year that the Oakland Raiders escaped from the cellar of the NFL. The Raiders operated with a skeleton crew the last couple of years and without much success, but they brought in a few veteran swashbucklers in the hopes of stealing more victories in 2014.

Head coach Dennis Allen was supposed to captain the turnaround, but the Raiders started taking on water in Week 1 against the New York Jets. After doing battle with the Houston Texans in Week 2, they are now listing to one side so badly that it’s unlikely they will recover in time to have a successful season.

Despite the obvious disability, Oakland’s rookies are off to a great start. Everyone knows about rookie quarterback Derek Carr, who commandeered the starting job from Matt Schaub and is trying to navigate his own growing pains. Not everyone is aware that linebacker Khalil Mack and left guard Gabe Jackson are playing superb football just two weeks into their young careers.

Fans expected this from Mack because he was the team’s first-round pick, but because the defense hasn’t performed and he doesn’t have any sacks, it may seem like he has been a non-factor. In fact, Mack is one of the few Raiders defenders playing well.


Khalil Mack Attack

The Raiders have allowed 400 rushing yards in the first two games, which is by far the worst in the league. That reflects poorly on Mack, but it shouldn’t. The Raiders have multiple players in the front seven playing poorly against the run, but Mack is not one of them.

Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Mack has the highest run grade on the team and is fifth in the entire league at 3-4 outside linebacker. Mack also has eight true tackles, according to PFF, which is second among all the players at his position. Overall, Mack is currently the fourth-best 3-4 outside linebacker, per PFF, just ahead of ...

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