Last season somewhat of a disaster for Raiders wide receiver, Denarius Moore. He spent the entire season as a continued source of frustration for his coaches and his quarterback. Coming into camp this year, he was showing no signs of remedying those issues. So much so that Dennis Allen as well as Greg Olson both called him out and challenged him to be the receiver of which they knew he was capable.
"A lot of it's gonna be on Denarius," said Olson back in late August. "To me it's that whole character issue about becoming a self starter and becoming a self-motivated person. A lot of it comes with maturity. I think he would be the first guy to say that and we're constantly on top of him. It's hard to give somebody like that any space so we just try to coach him up."
It is clear through the first six games of this season that he has responded to challenge in a big way.
As of now, Moore has been one of the most reliable targets in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, he has just one drop on 26 catchable balls thrown his way. That puts him among the most reliable hands in the NFL. Last season he was among the most unreliable with 9 drops on 60 catchable balls.
Along with Moore's drops last season, he was not making the proper hot reads and changing his route accordingly. This resulted in several interceptions by Carson Palmer as he threw the ball where Moore was supposed to be and he was not there.
Things started out this season looking like Moore might have not learned from his mistakes in the quarterback chemistry department. He wasn't coming back to the ball for Terrelle Pryor and the offense was suffering for it. But by week three, he seemed to have it figured out and had one of the best games of his career with six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Just when you thought Denarius would follow up a great performance with a goose egg, he has been the model of consistency ever since. He has averaged five catches a game since then and has had at least four catches in every game with a touchdown in three of those four games. He easily leads the Raiders in catches (25), receiving yards (399), yards per catch (16.0), and touchdowns (4).
"I think he's been more consistent" said Dennis Allen. "I think his work habits have improved. I think he's doing a better job of focusing in and understanding what his responsibilities are, what his job is, and he's getting to the right spots. When the ball is guided to him, he's made the play. Again, it's really not that complicated. Guys go out there and work, they focus in, and they do their job and when they get the opportunity, they make the play, generally have success."
This consistency has Denarius in the midst of easily his best season in the NFL and is on pace for nearly 70 catches, over 1000 yards receiving and double digit touchdowns. Turning all that potential as a playmaker into a reliable target is just what this team needed from him.