With the Raiders’ 2016 season now behind us, we take a look back and hand out some awards.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Averaging an impressive 5.9 yards per carry was good for the second highest yards per carry for a rookie running back in Raiders franchise history. His 306 yards in punt returns is top five in franchise history for a rookie. He outshined fellow rookie running back DeAndre Washington most of the season. In fact, the undrafted Richard may have outplayed the team’s entire draft class.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Speaking of that draft class, overall it was a considerable disappointment. As team’s top pick at 14 overall, Joseph got off to a slow start. He began to come into his own about a month into the season, then was lost to a toe injury the final four games. He finished the season with 60 combined tackles (44 solo), one interception, and 6 passes defended. Every one of those interceptions and passes defended came in the first half of the season.
Honorable mention: Darius Latham
Not only made his first Pro Bowl this season, but was named All Pro as well. He became known among many NFL circles after signing a deal in Oakland for $11 million per season. Then he went out and earned it, mauling defensive lineman all season long. The Raiders finished with the league’s 6th ranked rushing attack, averaging over 120 yards per game. Osemele played a major role in that.
Honorable Mention: Bruce Irvin
Most Disappointing Addition
After a rough first couple weeks, he seemed to have turned things around by midseason. But down the stretch, he was brutal, even facing lackluster quarterbacks like Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler. Smith was the team’s second highest paid free agent addition, making around $10 million per season. He didn’t come close to earning his paycheck.
Best Position Group
Most of the season, the combination of left tackle Donald Penn, left guard Kelechi Osemele, center Rodney Hudson, and right guard Gabe Jackson were as good as it gets. The left three were named to the Pro Bowl while Jackson is an alternate. Right tackle was not great, but the overall play of the line still held up. For the last couple games, Menelik Watson took over the starting right tackle job from Austin Howard.
It wasn’t until the Wild Card playoff game with the loss of Donald Penn that the line was an issue. Watson shifting to left tackle and Howard returning to play right tackle turned out disastrous.
As of now, the one coach whose contract was up that we have yet to hear of a renewal is Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line coach Mike Tice. He did masterwork with that line and should be a high priority to re-sign.
30-20 win over Denver Broncos in week 9
If you’re a Raiders fan, it doesn’t get better than this game. At the time both teams at 6-2, tied for the AFC West lead, with the rest of the football world hesitant to view these Raiders as ‘for real’ until they beat a team of the caliber of the Broncos. They completely dominated the Broncos, leading from start to finish and pounding the ball in the run game. It was a statement game that put the 2016 Raiders on the map and had the rest of the league recognize the team, it’s players, and coaches for postseason awards.
From a playoff perspective, there were games that would have meant more, but they lost both of them. Those were the late season loss in Kansas City and the season finale in Denver. Both were embarrassing defeats. A win in either of those games would have meant they win the AFC West. So, instead we must look all the way back to week 9 when they dominated the Broncos in their first meeting.
Special Teams Player of the Year
At one point this season, Marquette was the King of the NFL punting world. Everyone loved his dancing and his swag. Late in the season, he seemed to let it get to his head a little bit, causing his consistency to take a dive. Even still, he was among the league’s top punters in punt average and punts stopped inside the 20.
King 34 punts stopped inside the 20-yard-line on the season; second most in a season in Raiders franchise history, moving ahead of Shane Lechler’s 2008 mark (33) and behind only King’s own franchise record 40. And let’s not forget his 27-yard first down run off the botched snap against the Jaguars. These things along with kick holding duties has him the narrow winner of the Special Teams POY.
Honorable Mention – Andre Holmes, Jalen Richard, Brynden Trawick
Defensive Player of the Year
An All Pro once again this season, Mack is not just the winner of our Defensive Player of the Year Award, but he is a strong candidate for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. He finished the season with 11.0 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, 73 combined tackles (54 solo), 26 QB hits, 5 forced fumbles, 3 passes defended, 3 fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown. No player in the league had a more well-rounded and dominant season. Certainly none of his teammates.
Offensive Player of the Year
His leg injury was probably the only thing that kept him from surpassing 4000 yards and 30 touchdowns on the season. He was just 63 yards and 2 touchdowns away when he broke his fibula. His season had him back in the Pro Bowl, but this time he wasn’t an alternate.
Just as impressive as his overall numbers was his ball security. No one in football had fewer interceptions (6) with as many attempts (560) as Carr and only Tom Brady had fewer interceptions (2) while throwing as many touchdowns (28) as Carr.
Carr put the Raiders on his back this season. He was a league MVP candidate late in the season right up until his career worst game in Kansas City in week 14. Eight of the Raiders’ 12 wins, they were down by were down by at least a touchdown. Seven of those games, Carr led them on a late game-winning drive, including 6 game-winning or go-ahead touchdown passes.
When he was lost for the final game of the season, the Raiders were helpless against the Broncos and Texans – two teams they had handled earlier in the season with Carr in the lineup – further proving just how valuable he was to this team’s 12-4 season record and their run at the division and a top seed, falling just shy of it due to his loss.