Oakland Raiders Quarter Season Awards for 2016

Four games down and 12 remaining for the Oakland Raiders. Look at the good and bad from the Silver and Black’s 2016 season, with a quarter completed.

MVP: Derek Carr

Nine touchdowns and one interception. Don’t forget the game winning drives in the fourth quarter versus the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens. Quarterback Derek Carr has lead the team to their best start since 2002, the same year quarterback Rich Gannon won league MVP.

It is no coincidence. He earned his ranking as the top-rated quarterback according to Pro Football Focus. FurtherCarr is taking that next step as he is finishing drives in the endzone and he has become reliable in the clutch.

As long as the Raiders have Carr, they can finally compete with the best teams in the league. He is a natural athlete and leader, which make this MVP campaign real.

Comeback Player: D.J. Hayden

It is not often that a player who started the year before wins comeback player of the year. Considering he ended last season in the coaches’ and fans’ doghouse, corner D.J. Hayden deserves whatever extra credit he can win.

Yes, he has gotten beat. Yes, he has not been perfect. However, he has made plays that he did not in prior years. Hayden has shown ability as a pure tackler in the slot. He even broke up some passes last week.

Head coach Jack Del Rio has complimented his play multiple times in the season. David Amerson has said the sky is the limit for the young player. Hayden himself expects to continue building on the first quarter via CSN Bay AreaLook for Hayden to keep getting better with the entire team. The 2013 first round pick already climbed into the top 50 corners via PFF.

Best Newcomer: Cory James 

The Raiders are relying on lots of newcomers this season. We will limit it to rookies considering the high-profile free agents signed by Oakland.

Rookie runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard have both sparked the ground game. Vandal Alexander has filled in nicely at tackle. Korey Joseph has made plays in the secondary.

Nonetheless, linebacker Cory James wins the award after coming out of nowhere. Dude was selected as a glorified special teams player but has made two starts, recorded 23 tackles and a forced fumble. He’s been all over the field and has helped the team communicate.

James is far from perfect, but he is playing better than Ben Heeney. Even his defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said the team would be better if they had a bunch of players like him. Imagine where Oakland would be without him.

Best Playmaker: Michael Crabtree

Receiver Michael Crabtree has four touchdown receptions. He put the team on his back last week with three touchdowns. The receiver is on pace for 1236 yards and sixteen touchdowns. Crabtree also caught the game-winning, two-point conversion in Week 1.

Consistently, Carr looks for Crabtree in clutch third downs and in the redzone. The two players have developed chemistry in their second year. Yes, Amari Cooper is the x-factor thanks to his big plays. However, Crabtree is the player we need to keep drives alive.

Added, Bruce Irvin could claim this award. He has two strip sacks that changed the momentum versus the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, we can’t reward a player that on one of the league’s worst defenses.

Biggest Bust: Dan Williams

Speaking of the defense, it gave up historically bad numbers in the first two weeks. Some may say it was because Dan Williams did not play. He only played 24 percent of last week’s snaps too.

Remember, Williams came into training camp out of shape. Last season, he was one of the better players on defense. Still, the team has not stopped the run and that starts at the nose tackle position. Their 5.1 yards per carry is the worst in the league, and their 134.5 yards per game is the second worst. Even with Williams on the field, the team is not playing much better. Nor has he earned more time thanks to his pass rushing ability.

It pains me to say it because Williams’ story about joining the Raiders is one of my favorite. Either way, he can and needs to play better.

All of these awards could easily change, because there are a ton of games remaining. Keep watching to see how the Raiders do.

Oakland Raiders: The one thing to improve versus the Tennesse Titans

The Oakland Raiders and Tennesse Titans had even odds at the beginning of the week. Now, the week three game moved in the Titans’ favor, according to Silver and Black Pride.

One of the biggest reasons the Raiders could lose to the Titans is the defense.

How bad is the Oakland Raiders defense?

Here are some alarming numbers about the Raiders defense.

  • The Raiders are the first team to have allowed more than 500 yards in each of their first two games, since the 1970 merger, per ESPN.
  • The Raiders rank 23rd among NFL defenses in yards per carry with 4.5 yards per carry average. They also give up 404 passing yards per game.
  • Opposing teams completed 54 of 76 passes for 808 yards, seven touchdowns (most in the NFL) and only one interception. *
  • Oakland ranks No. 29 in opponent’s completion percentage (71.1 percent) and 32nd in opponent’s passer rating (131.4). *
  • Football Outsiders ranks the Raiders 30th in defense-adjusted value over average, which calculates the Raiders’ defense to an average schedule of opponents. Oakland is last in pass defense and 28th in rush defense according to this metric.
  • The Raiders rank 30th in sacks, with only two. Both came on the first drive in Weeks One and Two. Jihad Ward, Shilique Calhoun, Denico Autry, Williams, Justin Ellis, and Stacy McGee have combined for 10 pressures between them, according to PFF.
  • Overall, the Raiders interior linemen grade poorly by PFF. Ellis ranks 58th among defensive interior lineman. Autry is tied for 60th. Darius Latham ranks 92nd, Ward ranks 101st, and Dan Williams ranks 108.
  • The Raiders pressure QBs on just 21.8 percent of opponent’s dropbacks in two games, which is below the league average of 31 percent in 2016.
  • Oakland can still not cover the tight ends. The Falcons tight ends caught 10 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.

*Stats via CBS Sports Article.

The Major Key to beating the Titans

Before we all discount the Raiders defense, let’s remember it is two games. Granted, it is two horrible games. However, Oakland has too much talent and wise minds on defense not to produce.

Remember, the Raiders brought in a lot of changing parts via the NFL Draft and free agency. It was foolish to expect the Raiders to not have growing pains. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said this as he took some responsibility for the poor performance too.

Either way, the Raiders main key to victory remains the defense. Anyone who watched either game versus the Saints or Falcons can tell you that. Atlanta used Tevin Coleman and DeVonta Freeman to expose the middle of Oakland’s defense. The Saints relied on their crafty receivers.

Against the Titans, the Raiders defense must drastically improve.

Tennessee already proved they could move the ball in the third preseason game. Derek Henry and DeMarcco Murray could both bring outstanding fantasy performances versus the Raiders.

Not to mention, the Raiders still struggle covering the tight end. Now, Oakland faces one of the league’s best in Delanie Walker.

Further, Marcus Mariota is slowly becoming a dynamic player as he has completed 67 percent of his passes for four touchdowns, 509 yards, and two interceptions.

Ultimately, this game will come down to the Oakland making a play on defense. Last year’s matchup was a single score victory for the Raiders. Both teams improved since then, so it should be an interesting matchup.

On offense, Oakland has proven they can play with anyone. Quarterback Derek Carr lead the team on a game-winning drive in week one. He has only been sacked one time while finding a cast of different receivers.

The running game has been balanced. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington both serve as the explosive change of pace backs behind Latavius Murray.

Therefore, do not expect the offensive game plan to change much.

Defensively, the Raiders will change it by integrated rookies Corey James and Karl Joseph. I’d also like to see more of Shilique Calhoun and Dan Williams.

Either way, their defensive effort can not get much worse. This is the biggest key to victory for the 1-1 Raiders.

Oakland will try to turn their defensive effort around at 10 A.M. PST on Sunday, Sept. 25 versus the Tennessee Titans.