They say numbers never lie, and while that might be true – on paper of course – they might also not tell the whole story either.
And according to quarterback Derek Carr, the perfect example of that is the New England Patriots defense.
Headed into Sunday’s game in Mexico City, the New England defense is ranked dead last in the NFL, surrendering 408.3 yards per game, but ask Carr, and just looking at those stats doesn’t give a complete view of what the Patriots do to limit opposing defenses.
“If you just look at stats, they’re averaging whatever, it doesn’t matter,” said Carr. “They’re good. They’re well coached. They have first round picks all over the field. They have talent. They have veterans to get them lined up. They have veterans that know that system, been in that system a long time. Like I said, stats are misleading a lot of the time. They play very efficient. They tackle really well. They’re very fundamentally sound.”
The argument could be made that same principle applies to the Raiders defense; a group that while maybe not dominating statistically, has shown up in the biggest moments, consistently bending, but not breaking.
“[Head] Coach Jack [Del Rio] said something similar to that in the meeting earlier this week too,” safety Karl Joseph explained. “We both play complementary defense to our offense. We get the stops when it’s needed. The numbers, not having any interceptions, or [having] a certain amount of sacks, it don’t necessarily [show] how good you are.”
As Joseph alluded, the Raiders defense has yet to secure its first interception of 2017, and while the group’s 13 sacks are tied for 31st in the league, it’s seemed like when the offense has really needed the ball back at the end of a half or a game, Ken Norton, Jr.’s group found a way to force a stop.
“It’s just really about playing together,” Joseph said. “I think when the offense needs us, we have to step up, and come up with a stop, and give them the ball, give them a chance to go win the game for us, and same thing, when we need the offense to score for us, when we’re not necessarily playing too good or whatever, they always step up and put up the points.”
The Silver and Black will have their hands full Sunday afternoon – on both sides of the football – but trying to stop a Tom Brady-led offense is certainly not a task to be taken lightly.
“You have to make plays,” Norton said. “You have to get him [Tom Brady] off the spot sometimes. You have to make him think sometimes. You have to make plays. You have to knock the ball away from the receivers. You have to tackle really well. You have to put together a really solid game because they’re going to test everything that you’re doing. They have a certain formula that works well for them. You have to understand that formula and find ways to try and make them get off rhythm.”
Going against the top-rated offense in the NFL, led by one of the best quarterbacks of all time, in a vital Week 11 matchup could cause some players to strain, but according to Joseph, the Raiders are looking at Brady and the Patriots as just the next game on the schedule.
“We’re just getting ready like any other week,” Joseph said. “He’s obviously a great quarterback, probably one of the best ever, but we can’t really think about that too much. We have to get prepared for it like it’s just another game. You can’t put too much hype on it. We just know these games are crucial because we’re trying to go to the playoffs, so we have to win.”
The Raiders will fly to Mexico Saturday and kick off against the Patriots at 1:25 p.m. PT.
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