In our final installment of this series, we look at the return specialists. The Raiders haven't had a big play return specialist since... well, since Jacoby Ford was still making big plays in the return game. That was four years ago. Here is what the position looks like as it stands now:
KR Taiwan Jones - 26 returns, 24.0 ypr, long 41, 0 TD, 2 fumbles
KR/PR Jacoby Ford - 20 returns, 8.6 ypr punts, long 14, 23.0 ypr kicks, long 30, 0 TD, 4 fumbles
KR/PR Greg Jenkins - 16 returns, 8.2 ypr punts, long 14, 22.1 ypr kicks, long 29, 0 TD, 1 fumble
PR Phillip Adams - 8 returns, 7.4 ypr, long 30, 0 TD
KR Jeremy Stewart - 5 returns, 19.0 ypr, long 28, 0 TD
This was supposed to be the year Jacoby Ford returned to the form he had his rookie year in which he returned three kicks for touchdowns. That isn't what happened. He was initially a kick return specialist before losing his job to Taiwan Jones midway through the season. He was then was given some work in punt returns. The results were not great and his four fumbles on just 20 returns is downright terrible. He lost
Taiwan Jones earned the trust of the coaching staff again and took kick return duties from Jacoby Ford. He still manage to fumble twice but his numbers were better than Ford across the board.
By the end of the season, Jacoby Ford was squarely in the doghouse and his return duties were given over to undrafted rookie, Greg Jenkins. Though he wasn't spectacular, he almost always made the right decisions. He had just one mistake when he fumbled in scoring position on a return against the Chargers in week 16.
Phillip Adams and Jeremy Stewart were spot return men.
Team need: Moderate
Jacoby Ford is set to become a free agent and there is really no chance the team brings him back. He was inactive the final two games of the season as a sign they had already moved on. Taiwan Jones still seems to have the potential to make big plays. Greg Jenkins is steady but unspectacular and will look to break into the offense next season as a receiver. The team really needs to consider adding a big play return specialist to the team whether in free agency or the draft. Right now, they aren't getting a lot in that area.