Rank: 17th in yards per game (351.5), 11th in points per game (24.2), 10th in passing (255.2 ypg), 22nd in rushing (96.2 ypg).
1. The offensive line is flirting with being good
So, what did we know about this offensive line coming in. We knew Donald Penn was a top ten left tackle, Gabe Jackson had shown great potential, and Rodney Hudson was the top free agent acquisition. Penn and Hudson are as advertised, and Jackson is proving to be every bit the beast offensive guard everyone had hoped he would be in his second season.
The big scary questions were about the right side with starters J'Marcus Webb and Austin Howard. Both of them struggled in the team's loss in Chicago in week four with Webb giving up a couple sacks and Howard missing a few blocks in the run game. But, in the two weeks before that, both players were playing pretty well.
Webb has not been spectacular, but he has been serviceable and Howard seemed to have improved each week since the starting job fell to him with the injury to Menelik Watson. As the right tackle, his pass protection has been the steady improvement. Perhaps the coaching staff should just give up on pulling him in the run game, though. That has not worked out well as he is quite slow to the hole.
2. Amari Cooper is a sure-fire OROY candidate
He currently has 24 catches for 339 receiving yards, both of which lead all rookies by a wide margin. Marcus Mariota was named rookie of the month, and deservedly so - he is a quarterback and has thrown for 8 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions already. But if Cooper keeps up at this pace, he would finish with 96 catches for 1356 yards and 8 touchdowns. That's for real Rookie of the Year kind of numbers. It's been 12 years since a rookie receiver put up those kind of numbers. That was Anquan Boldin.
3. Derek Carr has come a long way, but has a ways to go
As a rookie, any potential Derek Carr showed came in short flashes. He said prior to this season that most major development in the offseason and it's difficult to actually improve all that much during the season because the game to game grind takes precedence over working on his craft.
Thus far in the season, he has shown that to very much be the case. Last season he was a bottom tier quarterback, which is often expected from a rookie. And while they say quarterbacks make their biggest leaps in development between year one and year two, some do not. Carr absolutely has.
He has shown improvement in nearly every facet of his game - pocket presence, going through his reads, timing, and anticipation chief among them. There is, of course, much room for improvement. The timing and accuracy on his deep ball is still severely lacking. He most often throws short of his receivers, allowing the defender to make a play on a ball which he had been trailing and therefore his previously open receiver is open no longer.
Last season his issues outweighed his flashes of great potential. Merely being able to point to just one glaring area for improvement is evidence in and of itself that Carr has taking a big step forward. And the hope is that some of that issue can be cleared up once he gets a better feel for his two new starting receivers. Thus far, though, Carr has shown impressive progress.
4. Michael Crabtree was a key free agent addition
For the second year in a row, the Raiders signed a receiver late in free agency, that apparently no one else wanted, and they came in and took over as one of the team's top receiving targets. Last year it was James Jones (who is now reliving his glory days back in Green Bay) and this year it was Michael Crabtree.
Crabtree is not unique in that he is a wide receiver who is quite the talker on the field. But off the field, he is definitely a unique guy. He is not talkative at all and it can be hard to get a read on him as a person. He is definitely a character. His reputation as such is probably a major reason why he was phased out of the offense in San Francisco and teams weren't lining up to give him long term deals.
A month into free agency, he signed with Oakland on a one-year deal, which is often referred to as a ‘prove it' deal. Thus far he is proving it. He showed great rapport with Derek Carr early in camp and through four games, he has 264 yards and a touchdown. That puts him on pace for over 1000 yards on the season, which would be just his second 1000-yard season of his 7-year NFL career.
And while fellow receivers Amari Cooper and Seth Roberts are tied for 3rd in the NFL with four drops each, Crabtree has yet to drop a single pass.
5. Tight end not major upgrade
To add the word "yet" to this would be optimistic. The team drafted Clive Walford in the third round this year in the hopes that he would be the answer at the tight end position and he has yet to show up, catching just two passes for 5 yards. He has an excuse. He missed all but two days of training camp and played in just one preseason game before being injured again. That slowed his development.
Rivera has no such excuse. He was the team's starter last season at the position and has been nearly non-existent thus far, having been outplayed by blocking tight end Lee Smith. Rivera has been targeted 11 times this season, and has caught just six of them for 31 yards. Smith has caught all four passes thrown his way for 28 yards. In total the tight end position has contributed 12 catches for 64 yards. And there's no telling when they will get any decent production at the position.