Week by week this season, I weighed in on the Las Vegas Raiders winners and losers for each game. So, it’s only fitting that we put a bow on the 2022 campaign by taking a holistic approach to the column and looking at the entire year.
WINNER: Josh Jacobs
Had Aaron Judge not just won the MLB MVP award and set the Yankee’s record for home runs in a season this past year, Josh Jacobs would have a very strong argument for having the best contract year in the history of professional sports.
After having his fifth-year option declined in the offseason, Jacobs went out and became the second player in franchise history to win the rushing title with 1,653 yards, over 100 more than anyone else in the league. Perhaps even more impressively, he led all running backs with 90 missed tackles forced and ranked second with 1,154 rushing yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus.
The fourth-year pro now seems destined to surpass Christian McCaffery as the NFL’s highest-paid running back at over $16 million per year.
LOSER: Josh McDaniels
The team’s record follows the head coach more than anybody and the stench of a 6-11 campaign is going to be hard for Josh McDaniels to wash away. That’ll drop his win-loss total to 17-28 (37.8 winning percentage) as the man in charge, and that includes his 6-0 start in Denver and it’s been confirmed that he was cheating during that run.
But the Raiders simply losing games isn’t the only reason why McDaniels lands on the losers list, it’s the way the losses unfolded. Las Vegas set an NFL record by blowing five double-digit second-half leads and there was a constant trend where the offense became stagnant to close out games. Had they been able to finish, the team would have flipped its record around and be in the playoffs.
The former Patriots’ offensive coordinator still hasn’t proven that he can be successful without the greatest coach and quarterback of all time. However, he’ll get a chance to right the ship next season with his hand-picked signal caller.
WINNER: Davante Adams
The Raiders gave up a king’s ransom for Davanate Adams, but he was worth every penny. He crushed Tim Brown’s record for receiving yards in a single season by 108 yards, a mark that had stood for 25 years and had only really been threatened by Brown himself.
Adams also led the league with 14 receiving touchdowns, made his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl and was a first-team All-Pro for the third year in a row. He’s putting together a Hall of Fame résumé and whoever the team’s next quarterback is will certainly be happy to have arguably the best wide receiver in the game to throw to.
LOSER: Derek Carr
Pivoting to Adams’ close friend and college teammate, the Fresno State reunion will be short-lived as Derek Carr will depart from Las Vegas in the next month or so.
Statistically, Carr regressed in several areas as his 60.8 completion percentage was his lowest since his rookie year, 234.8 passing yards per game was the third-worst of his career, and his 14 interceptions tied for the most he’s thrown, equalling last year’s total but in two fewer games. The Raiders’ quarterback also finished with a 65.4 PFF passing grade that ranked 27th out of 41 qualifying QBs.
That’s a tough way for the franchise’s passing leader to go out.
WINNER: Maxx Crosby
After cracking the double-digit sack threshold with 10 as a rookie, Maxx Crosby fell a few short in years two and three but got back in the club this year with a career-best 12.5 sacks. He also was one of the most consistent pass rushers in the league with 81 pressures that trailed only Micah Parsons and Nick Bosa, who each had 90.
But Crosby also stepped up as a run defender, logging 41 defensive stops against the run, the most of any edge defender by eight. For more context, Cameron Jordan was in third place with 26, so Las Vegas’ defensive end was one of the best all-around players at his position. That’s why he’s going to his second consecutive Pro Bowl and narrowly missed becoming a second-team All-Pro, according to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press.
LOSER: Bilal Nichols
Bilal Nichols was brought on to provide some interior pressure from the team’s defensive line, however, he failed to live up to expectations. He only mustered 1.5 sacks, his lowest since his second year in the NFL, and had one less pressure than his previous season despite rushing the passer nearly 100 more times.
He also graded out 101st among 105 defensive tackles as a run defender (48.9), per PFF, leaving the Raiders to look for a new 3-technique this offseason.
WINNER: Andrew Billings
From one disappointing defensive tackle to a surprising one. When Andrew Billings signed with Las Vegas last February, he had played in just 72 defensive snaps over the last two seasons combined and was fighting to salvage his career. However, he managed to become a Week 1 starter and emerged as one of the team’s best defensive players.
Billings finished the season as the Raiders’ second-highest graded defender (minimum 400 snaps) with a mark of 76.4, per PFF, and proved to be an excellent run-stuffer. He posted a 72.3 run defense grade that ranked 19th among defensive tackles, sandwiched between Jeffery Simmons and Leonard Williams. Also, he logged 21 defensive stops which were tied for the 23rd-most at the position.
The soon-to-be free agent will be getting a big raise in the offseason after playing for the veteran’s minimum in 2022.
LOSER: Tre’von Moehrig
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Tre’von Moehrig. As a rookie, he was praised for his availability and play on the field, participating in all but a handful of the team’s defensive snaps while surrendering just 11 receptions for 158 yards. However, he missed a couple of games at the beginning of this season and struggled in coverage, giving up 29 catches for 354 yards.
Moehrig still has plenty of time to turn things around, but there’s no denying he suffered a major sophomore slump.
WINNER: Jermaine Eluemunor
Similar to Billings, Jermaine Eluemunor came into this season with low expectations and over-delivered. He was viewed as the third or fourth option at right tackle heading into training camp and became the team’s Week 1 starter in just over a month. But even then, he was splitting reps with rookie Thayer Munford at the beginning of the season before locking down the job about halfway through the year.
Eluemunor played phenomenally as a pass blocker, ranking tied for 20th among tackles with a 97.4 efficiency rating, according to PFF. He also had three outings where he didn’t allow a single pressure and averaged about 1.5 pressures surrendered per game. Not bad for a guy who got benched in 2021 and is about to hit the open market.
LOSER: Anthony Averett
Anthony Averett joins the long list of free agent signing who didn’t pan out in Las Vegas this season. He was brought on to add depth to a young secondary but two stints on injured reserve kept him from meeting that expectation, and he wasn’t good when he was on the field either.
Opposing quarterbacks only threw three incompletions (15-18) when targeting Averett and only one came via pass breakup. Those passes went for 224 yards, giving the veteran defensive back an astonishing 14.9 yards allowed per catch on the campaign, tied for the 16th-highest rate among the 135 qualifying cornerbacks. He’ll likely be a one-and-done player for the Silver and Black.