With all the attention being paid to Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, and Amari Cooper it can be easy to forget some of the role players who could have an impact in the upcoming season. Few have been more exciting and at times frustrating than wide receiver Seth Roberts.
Roberts was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and spent his first year on the practice squad. He made the 53-man roster in 2015, starting five games and recording 32 receptions for 480 yards and 5 touchdowns. While his 2016 stats seem unimpressive with 38 receptions for 397 yards and 5 touchdowns, it was his knack of coming up with a big play that has become his calling card.
Consistency has been the main issue with Seth. Usually a couple dropped passes has preceded the big play at the end of the game. Those lapses are partly why the Raiders signed Cordarrelle Patterson along with adding another threat on the offense and special teams. Even though Seth will share snaps, he could still have opportunities if he can avoid plays like this.
Derek Carr averaged 7.6 yards per attempt facing the LA Chargers. That number fell to 5.9 yards against Denver. Facing the Chiefs Carr only averaged a paltry 4.6 yards per attempt. This was caused by the stifling man to man coverage coupled with a tenacious pass rush.
The man coverages utilized by both Denver and KC have to be exploited over the middle of the field. The slot receiver and tight end are the two primary weapons to take advantage of the open space.
Here is a prime example of how to use a slot receiver against press man coverage. While Seth runs a flat route, Crabtree runs a pick getting Seth into open space. While good man coverage makes the throwing windows small, it also opens up the defense for yards after the catch. More plays like this will help those yards per attempt numbers.
The Raiders will be running more no-huddle this season. With this being Jared Cook and Patterson’s first year in the offense, it may take them a few weeks for them to acclimate. While no-huddle offense puts stress on a defense’s communication, it also requires the offense to all be on the same page. Roberts will have the upper hand due to his familiarity with the system, but he must take advantage of this opportunity.
For all of his consistency issues, there may not be another player on the team that has come up bigger in clutch situations. Lest we forget his 41-yard, game winning touchdown in overtime in Tampa.