1. Raiders fans are spoiled by elite punters
How is it one franchise can be blessed with such great punting? They have the only ever pure punter in the Hall of Fame now in Ray Guy. For the better part of this century the Raiders had statistically the best punter in league history in Shane Lechler. And the moment he finds his way out of Oakland to go back home to Houston, they uncover Marquette King.
While Guy was a first round pick and Lechler was a fifth round pick (fairly high pick for a punter), King was a raw undrafted former wide receiver out of Fort Valley State who has turned (or turnt as it were) himself into arguably the best punter in the NFL. Each season he has gotten better and better. And this offseason, the Raiders made sure they locked him in long term so no other team could steal away their investment.
Currently King sits in the top five in total yards (1150), net yards (954), yards per punt (50), punts stopped inside the 20 (11), and longest punt (72). No other NFL punter can claim that. This big legged punter has turned into a big legged surgeon… punter.
2. Slimmed down Seabass is a good thing
With the rumblings of his job security not being what they once were, Sebastian Janikowski put forth a renewed focus on his health and dedication to his craft this offseason. First and foremost, he attended every practice this offseason. In years past, he would skip the voluntary practices.
The moment I saw him take off his pads during those OTA’s it was obvious he had lost weight and toned up. It seems he’s been hanging around his holder (that would be Marquette King) a lot more in the weight room. He said recently he would like to play into his 40s. He will be 40 when his Raiders contract is up and taking care of himself is a great way to do that.
Early in the season, he missed a 58-yard field goal due to a bad snap. He would get another crack at a 50+ field goal two weeks ago and nailed it with no doubt to set a new NFL record with 53 field goals from 50 yards and out. It’s one of many records Janikowski holds, and certainly the most prestigious.
3. Rookie Richard showing great skills as a return man
Richard made the team on a tryout basis and was seen as a shifty, speedy scat back. While he’s been that, he’s brought the added bonus of being a damn fine return specialist.
After four weeks, he sits fifth in the league in punt return average among those with at least five punt returns. He is tied for the league lead with 2 punt returns over 20 yards including his 47-yard punt return last week against the Ravens which is tied for the 8th longest return in the league this season. He is also tied for 11th in kick returns, averaging 22.5 yards per return and his 4 kick returns over 20 yards is tied for 9th most.
4. There’s a new specialist leader in Oakland
Every team needs guys that stand out on special teams. Even if that’s the only area in which they stand out, it’s a portion of the game that can’t be overlooked or it will bite you in the ass. Turnovers can be forced, given up, and field position drastically shifted based on one play made or not made on special teams.
Brynden Trawick was signed this offseason as somewhat of an afterthought. He and Daren Bates would brought in after most of the other big name free agents were added. They duties consist almost exclusively as special teamers, both in blocking and in coverage. Trawick leads the Raiders with 7 combined special teams tackles (5 solo). No other player has more than two. He also partially blocked a punt last week that helped to allow Richard to have his 47-yard punt return to set up a touchdown.