The Oakland Raiders (7-2) entered their bye week with a first place spot in the AFC West, fresh off a win over their AFC West rival the Denver Broncos.
It was a long week for Raiders Nation. Besides not having a game last week, they watched as the Kansas City Chiefs and Broncos both escaped with narrow victories.
Nonetheless, the Raiders have a lot to celebrate over the first half of their season. Headed into a Monday Night Football game versus the Houston Texans in Mexico City, it is time to hand out some awards.
Unlike other Midseason Awards, I will not keep this team specific. The Raiders are on the national stage and their players deserve consideration for NFL recognition.
MVP: Derek Carr
The Raiders are tied for the best record in the AFC West, and Derek Carr deserves a lot of credit. He led game-winning drives against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints. He also helped the team close out games versus the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Carr is also on pace to throw for more than 4,500 yards in the season.
Candidates Ezekiel Elliott, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan all get consideration for this award. However, Brady missed four games. Elliott plays behind a dominant offensive line and Ryan could drop off in the second half of the season. Carr has a case for midseason MVP, and it should not be that close.
Offensive Player of Midseason: Derek Carr
Clearly, Carr is a candidate for the offensive player of the year award if he is an option for overall MVP.
Granted, Amari Cooper is having a great year. The Raiders defense would not be the same without him.
However, Cooper and Crabtree should both surpass 1,000 receiving yards. That is due to Carr.
The Raiders quarterback also shattered a franchise record for passing attempts and yards. He’s won AFC Player of the Week twice.
Even if you give the MVP of midseason to another player in the league, you must make Carr the offensive player of the year. He leads a Raiders offense that ranks No. 5 in yards per game and No. 6 in total points. Carr also owns one of the best touchdowns to interceptions ratio in the NFL.
Defensive Player of Midseason: Khalil Mack
Khalil Mack turned his season around by registering six sacks in four games. That puts him on pace for 14 this season. PFF ranks Mack as one of the best edge players this season.
Von Miller is also in the conversation. Aaron Donald may be as well. Both of those players may have a better argument because their defensive units rank better than the Raiders in most categories.
Thus far, Miller has 9.5 sacks and Donald has five sacks. Donald faces a disadvantage for the award because he plays inside, where he gets fewer opportunities to sack the quarterback. Also, Donald’s Rams seem most unlikely to make the playoffs.
Therefore, Mack’s shot at this award lies with the entire defense. Currently, Oakland ranks 16th in total points and fifth in most defensive yards per game. If Mack wants to win the NFL DPOY award, he must help turn those stats around. Taking the AFC West from the Broncos could also help Mack claim the award from Miller’s hands.
Rookie of the Year: Karl Joseph
Rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott make it hard for Joseph to win this award on a national scale.
Joey Bosa’s four sacks and Leonard Floyd’s five sacks make it hard for Joseph to win the defensive edition too. Also, Deion Jones also has a couple of interceptions, a touchdown and a gang of tackles.
Joseph’s best argument centers around his one interception and holding the second highest tackles mark on the team. Joseph did not start the first three games of the season, but he can easily win this award with a few interceptions.
Coach of the Year: Jack Del Rio
Listen, I don’t care what Jason Garrett is doing with his rookies. I don’t care how many times Bill Belichick can win this award. I don’t care what Gus Bradley is doing in his own franchise turnaround.
Jack Del Rio deserves this award, especially if he ends the Raiders 14-year playoff drought. Del Rio turned around the losing culture in Oakland. He brought them back into the national spotlight with some of his gambling playcalls.
Del Rio’s biggest obstacle for this award revolves around that struggling defense. Afterall, Del Rio is a defensive coach.
Biggest Disappointment: Clive Walford
Sean Smith has made enough plays to get himself out of this conversation. Instead, we can award it to our second-year tight end. Fantasy football experts hyped him up as our third passing target. Unfortunately, he only has one touchdown catch and is barely on pace to eclipse his rookie totals for catches and yards.
You could add some players like Dan Williams or Menelik Watson into this list. That is partly because they have not commanded the roles of full-time starters. Williams for his condition and Watson for the nagging injuries.
However, Walford was suppossed to become elite. He’s barely progressing.
Remember, they do call this the Not-For-Long league. Therefore, I gotta imagine there is a bigger bust somewhere in the league.