Let’s put a bow on this thing, shall we? The season that was a dream right up until the end when it turned into a nightmare finish.
It can be difficult to remember just how good the Raiders were this season when the last memories we have are getting knocked from atop the AFC West in the season finale and easily washed out of the playoffs in the Wild Card game. Both against teams they had beaten earlier in the season.
I think everyone knew losing Derek Carr would be devastating, but few could have predicted just how incompetent they would be in his absence.
After week 16, the Raiders had possession of the AFC West and a top seed. They were 12-3 and one more win would give them the division title and tie them for the most regular season wins in franchise history.
They were in the top five on offense and among the league worst on defense. Several of their wins were of the comeback variety, with 6 of them involving a comeback from at least 7 points down.
Though the defense gave up a lot of yards, they were opportunistic, finishing second in the NFL with 30 takeaways. Unfortunately, the team that was above them in takeaways (33), as well as tied with them with a +16 turnover ratio was in their division and swept them in the regular season. The Chiefs would represent half of the Raiders entire season loss total which means though both teams finished with the same record, the Chiefs took the division.
Enough introduction, here is the wrap-up B&B for the 2016 season.
A ten-time Baller along with being thrice a Top Baller, Derek Carr is unquestionably the engine that made the Raiders run. Had he been able to play in the regular season finale, there is little doubt the Raiders would be preparing to face the Steelers in Oakland this weekend instead of seeing their season end in Houston last weekend. The only quarterback in the league with at least 28 touchdown that had fewer interceptions than Carr’s 6 was Tom Brady (2).
A team-leading 11-time Baller, and 4-time Top Baller, Mack finished strong even when the team didn’t. As he is known to do, he finished strong, putting up one of his best performances of the season in the playoff game and being named a Baller in 10 of the Raiders last 11 games.
The first year free agent addition is everything the Raiders hoped he would be. And that saying a lot considering they paid him $3 million more than any other guard in the NFL. He was a Baller 6 times and a Top Baller once. Being recognized as an offensive lineman is not as easy as at other positions. In most cases, if he is doing his job, you don’t hear his name. Well, Osemele heard his name and it was at the end of the season when he was named first team All Pro after making his first ever Pro Bowl.
Talk about finishing strong, by midseason, Irvin had been a Baller just once. In the final stretch of the season, he was a Baller five times and once a Top Baller. He had a three-game sack streak and five of his 7.0 sacks came after week 11. He would also finish as the league leader with six forced fumbles.
His drops this season were frustrating. But more times than not, he was Carr’s favorite receiver, making clutch tough catches all season. He was a Baller seven times this season, and once a Top Baller. In the finale, he just got over 1000 yards while leading the team with 8 receiving touchdowns.
This pocket rocket was a Baller 6 times both for his performances as a running back and in the return game. He led all running backs on the team averaging 5.9 yards per carry, finishing with 491 yards on 83 carries. He added 194 yards receiving and 708 yards in punt and kick returns for a total of 1393 combined yards. Not bad for an undrafted rookie.
He had quite the nose for the endzone this season, punching it in a team-leading 12 times. His rush totals were down with his new rookie change of pace tandem of Richard and DeAndre Washington, but that only made the offense that much better. Last season he was the only option and though he had over 1000 yards, he wore down last in the season.
The fact that he was a Baller 6 times this season and is named a season Baller when he was not last season should tell you that stats aren’t everything. While he faded late last season, his early season and late season were very much the same. He was a Baller three times and Top Baller once in the first half of the season, and a Baller three times and Top Baller once in the second half.
This former undrafted gem was a rare bright spot among a revolving door of Raiders defensive linemen. He was named a Baller 5 times this season. The 6-5, 273-pounder gets up to knock balls down at the line and gets in the backfield a good amount in the pass rush as well. He was third on the team with 3.0 sacks behind Mack and Irvin. He has a relentless motor which helps him to find the ball carrier and disrupt the passing game. He finished strong in 2015 and continued it this season despite other linemen often getting starts ahead of him.
A Baller seven times this season, he sneaks in despite again fading down the stretch and not being named a Baller in the final five games. But his early season, which saw him named a Baller 6 of the first 10 games and finishing with 1153 yards on the season is still pretty impressive.
Donald Penn -- Like Carr, his importance to the team wasn’t fully realized until he was not there. Hard to say for sure if it was simply a talent drop or because Menelik Watson was switching from right to left, but in his place in the Wild Card game, Jadeveon Clowney and the Texans defensive line had a field day on the Raiders’ offense. Penn didn’t give up a sack must of the season, but wasn’t without his issues. He was a Baller six times in the season, but was a Buster 5 times, including the final two games of the season. Also his 10 penalties was tied for second most on the team.
Marquette King – A Baller five times four of which came early in the season. He faded down the stretch and was named a Buster three times late in the season, but still managed to finish top five in punt average (48.6), and punts inside the 20 (34).
Rodney Hudson – The steady hand at center was a 2-time Baller. He mostly just plays relatively mistake free football, but he can move on pull blocks and get to the second level to occasionally lay a big block on a run play.
Andre Holmes – A 3-time Baller, his work on special teams is invaluable. And now and then, he will show up and make a play as a receiver as well.