FIST — Football Is Special Teams. The Raiders know this. Several moves they have made of late show they understand the value.
It’s the reason players like Bryden Trawick and Daren Bates were priority free agent signings last offseason. And why, no matter what you think of Andre Holmes as a receiver, he continues to make the squad and is active on game days. And why Jalen Richard was getting playing time while DeAndre Washington was inactive for two games. And why extending Taiwan Jones and Marquette King were important.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Games are won and lost on special teams all too often. King with the help of Andre Holmes played a major role in the Raiders beating the Broncos in their first meeting last season. King put the punt near the goal line and Holmes kept it out of the end zone. In the second win over the Chargers, 12 of the Raiders’ 19 points came off of Sebastian Janikowski field goals, including all of the team’s points in the second half in a comeback win.
Each year, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News puts out his rankings of the league’s special teams units using 22 kick game categories to compile a point total. Here is how the top ten stacks up:
See the entire rankings here.
Right there at 9 overall is the Raiders.
While we can't get a specific idea of how they quantify this, here are a few stats that may explain it:
The Raiders were best in the league in punt average (48.6), 7th in net punt average (41.4), and 5th in punts stopped inside the 20 (34). Those are, of course, Marquette King's numbers.
The Raiders allowed the 6th lowest kick return yardage (19.9 yards per return).
They were 11th in punt return average (9.3) and 22nd in kick return average (20.5) and were one of just three teams in the leauge without a fumble on either kick or punt returns. The Falcons and Seahawks were the others.
Brynden Trawick was 4th in the league with 15 combined special teams tackles, and 6th in solo tackles (11)
Johnny Holton tied for 6th in the league with 11 solo special teams tackles and was 9th in combined tackles (12).
Sebastian Janikowski was 10th in the league with 29 field goals made including 10 from 40-49 yards which was 4th most in the league.