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Oakland Raiders Regular Season Awards

The Oakland Raiders regular season ended way earlier than any of us had hoped.

We would all rather watch our team in the AFC Championship. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Instead, we’re forced to review the regular season. Here is my take on the key players for the Raiders season, as well as a bonus award.

MVP

Derek Carr is the MVP and it is not even close. Oakland’s score in the combined two games without Carr did not surpass the Raiders’ per game total.

Added, he was the emotional leader of this team via multiple fourth quarter comebacks. Carr may also have a claim to the league’s version of this award. He is also the obvious choice for Offensive Player of the Year too.

DPOY

Khalil Mack was one of the lone bright spots for a Raiders defense that ranked towards the bottom in most categories. Mack graded as the best defensive player per Pro Football Focus. He also registered 11 sacks and four turnovers.

Rookie of the year

Jalen  Richard wins this award for his contributions to the running game and return game. He provided sparks for this offense in the playoff game via a return and during a touchodown that occured on his first professional carry.

Moreover, Richard started the year behind fellow rookie DeAndre Washington but Richard finished the season with more rushing yards.

Best Newcomer

Kelechi Osemele came over from the Baltimore Ravens. He brought a nastiness to the guard position and the entire offensive line. Osemele is the one of the biggest reasons the Raiders had a top offense. He should anchor one of the best lines for a while.

Reggie Nelson and Bruce Irvin also contributed as newcomers. However, Osemele completely changed the culture of the offensive line. This earns him the row. Not to mention, the offense was superior than the defense.

Biggest Flop

Dan Williams deserves this award, despite being one of the best character guys on the team. Williams was one of the Raiders most consistent players in 2015. This year, he entered the season as a backup behind Justin Ellis. Williams eventually got his spot back, but he was not a gamechanger.

The Raiders cycled through multiple players at defensive tackle all season. A lot of that was Williams’ inconsistency. The Raiders struggled generating rush and stopping the run. Williams deserves a lot of the blame.

I published a similar version of this article on Inquisitr. You can read more about the Raiders awards on the website.

 

 

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Oakland Raiders: Keys to beating the Carolina Panthers

Last week, the Oakland Raiders nearly suffered a letdown. The Houston Texans led throughout the Monday Night Football matchup in Mexico City.

However, the Raiders found a way to win.

This week, the Raiders can not rely on the same heroics. Despite their record, the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers (4-6) still have the reigning MVP, big receivers and a scary defensive line. Don’t forget Oakland’s only two losses this season came at home. Hence, this could combine for a huge Panthers’ road victory over the Raiders.

Here is the formula which should help Oakland protect their home-field

1) Pound the football

Oakland made their running backs relevant via pass attempts. Jamize Olawale and Jalen Richard both caught touchdown passes and Latavius Murray caught five passes for 59 yards.

Otherwise, Oakland only rushed for 30 yards on 20 carries. The Texans owned them in time of possession by more than 13 minutes.

Hence, Oakland must bounce back this week. The Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in football, and they face a great Carolina defensive line that is deep. It should be fun watching Kelechi Osemele and Kawann Short battle in the middle. Hopefully, the Raiders can take advantage of their versatility at the running back position with Murray, Richard and company.

Plus, Carolina will be without their all-pro run linebacker Luke Kuechly. This should open up some running lanes for the Raiders.

Expect them to get back to the ground game against the Panthers. This is the easiest way to limit Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s impact on the game.

2) Pressure Cam Newton

Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack enters this game with a chance to get a sack in his sixth consecutive game. However, it won’t be easy against the forever mobile Newton.

Thus, it will be on the entire defensive line to contain Newton. It is well documented that Newton has problems with the way he is hit on the run and in the pocket. Therefore, Oakland must get into his head by pressuring and hitting him in legal ways. This will keep the Panthers’ rushing and passing attack out of rhythm.

Further, the Raiders must stay in their passing lines. Newton can extend plays with his feet, so the Raiders must not let him run around. The Raiders secondary makes too many mistakes, and the Panthers receivers are too big and fast. It could spell disaster if the Raiders do not pressure Newton and keep contain.

Granted, that is easier said than done.

3) Secondary must improve

The Carolina secondary has not been the same since losing Josh Norman to free agency. Therefore, the deep group of Oakland receivers should exploit the Carolina corners.

However, the Panthers could make this a shootout. We know the Raiders secondary makes mistakes via penalties and big plays. This week, they matchup well against the big-bodied receivers in Carolina. Raiders corners Sean Smith and David Amerson are just as big and skilled as Panthers receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Tedd Ginn Jr.

Hence, the Oakland secondary must improve. D.J. Hayden, Karl Joseph, Reggie Nelson, Malcolm Smith, and Perry Riley could all see matchups versus tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen is one of the best in the NFL.

Oakland can not let the Panthers keep this game close by giving up big plays in the passing game. No mistakes this week, guys!

The Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers play at 1:25 p.m. PST.

Oakland Raiders: Turn up or Turn Down from Week 4

The Oakland Raiders secured their third road victory of the 2016 season via a defeat of the previously undefeated Baltimore Ravens. Here are more lessons from the 28-27 victory.

Turn Up: 3-1 overall record for the 2016 season.

Forget the fact that Oakland won all three games by a single score. The Raiders have their best start since 2002, the same year they won the AFC title.  Not to mention, the team seems poised for their first winning season since that year. That all sounds like  cause for celebrations.

Turn up: The Special Teams

Marquette King registered the best-graded game ever rated by Pro Football Focus. Jalen Richard also added a 47-yard punt return. Special teams really gave the Raiders an edge in the one-point contest versus the Ravens. Especially when Devin Hester sparked his team with a few nice returns, the Silver and Black needed to execute on special teams.

That is exactly what head coach Jack Del Rio said in Monday’s press conference.

“All three phases playing complementary football, impacting the game, and it’s about us and our team, and what we’re able to do when those three phases work together like that. That’s a great example of it.” Del Rio said.

Let’s see more sparks via corner punts and long returns as the season continues.

Turn Down: The talks about an elite offense

Oakland played an efficient game on offense. Derek Carr threw four touchdown passes and went 25 of 35 for 199 yards. The leading rusher was DeAndre Washington with 30 yards on five carries. Plus, the unit only converted a quarter of their third down attempts.

Obviously, the Silver and Black will take the win. However, we need to see more from the rushing attack before this unit becomes elite. An example of this includes Baltimore winning the time of possession category by more than 9 minutes. It could help not having a rookie like Vandal Alexander at right tackle. Some of his penalties killed the team. An improved rushing attack also makes for more easily managed third downs.

Either way, Oakland still ranks in the top 10 as far as offensive averages for rushing and passing. They just need a little better execution to become an elite unit.

Turn Down: Defensive hype

 

Yes, the Raiders defense came up with a four-and-out stop in the final two minutes before winning on the road. Yes, Bruce Irvin got a strip-sack and Khalil Mack got his first sack of the year in the fourth quarter. Plus, the team pressured Joe Flacco all day.

However, Ravens running back slashed through the Raiders defense for 113 yards on 21 carries. Joe Flacco also got 298 yards, even if it took him more than 50 attempts. Also, 37-year-old Steve Smith caught 8 balls for 111 yards and 1 touchdown.

Clearly, Oakland has a long way to go before the unit is actually good. They still rank last in total yards and average per pass. They are also second to last in opponent rushing yards per game.

It is great that the Silver and Black can rely on their team to make plays when it matters. Nonetheless, it would be great if they made plays through the entire game.

Turn Down: The Penalties

Overall, the Raiders have had too many penalties. They are No. 1 in offensive penalties with 43. They are in the top-five as far as defensive penalties too.

The margin for error is so low in the NFL. Oakland can not keep winning these one score games if they consistently lead in the penalty category.

Blame it on the Raiders-bias if you want. However, the Raiders need to look themselves in the mirror and execute better. This is especially true for an offensive line that is too good for holding calls and false starts.

Turn Up: D.J. Hayden in the nickel corner.

Hayden played 70 percent of the team’s snaps despite not starting in the base defense. He made six tackles and defensed one pass. Not to mention, he made some hits.

We’ve grown so much, man,” Hayden said. “As far as our execution; we’re playing smarter. We’re just out there playing. We’re not thinking, we’re just reacting.”

Considering how many fans were ready to write him off, we should definitely celebrate that Hayden is coming into his own  via the inside corner spot.

 

Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints: Quick Hits

The Oakland Raiders begin their season 1-0, after a thrilling 35-34 win over the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints led 17-10 at  halftime in the Super Dome.

Out of the second half, both offenses sputtered. Then the Saint hits on a deep pass that ignited them.

Oakland put together some drives also. Richard got a big-play that would lead to a tie game. Here are some big plays and points from the game.

  • Raiders defense started the game with Bruce Irvin strip sack which ended the Saints’first drive. This lead to Sebastian Janikowski kick.
  • Murray had 7 carries for 32 yards in the first half. Jalen Richard caught a pass. Taiwan Jones also got a carry but lost yards.
  • Amari Cooper setup first touchdown of the season. Cooper caught two passes before the Latavius Murray 11-yard touchdown run. Cooper made a sprawling catch at the five before Murray punched it in for 10-3 lead.
  • On defense, the secondary struggled in the first half. Sean Smith gave up a long pass play to rookie Michael Thomas. Brandin Cooks caught a touchdown pass with D.J. Hayden in coverage. Willie Snead tore up the Raiders from the slot. He caught a short touchdown pass on fourth down, but he consistently got open.
  • Raiders offense punts on first drive after halftime as they trail 17-10 but defense holds Saints to the same. Richard gets nice punt return negated by holding.
  • Sean Smith dusted by Brandin Cooks for 98-yard touchdown run. New Orleans takes 24-10 lead  in the third.
  • Crabtree came up big in the second-half. Raiders held to a field goal after a solid drive, Saints maintain a 24-13 lead.
  • Matt McCants goes down at right tackle. Oakland moves Penn to fill his spot. Kelechi Osemele plays left tackle and Jon Feliciano comes in at left guard.
  • Carr leads Raiders on a drive to start the fourth quarter. Finds Cooper on a deep pass after having lots of time in the pocket. Then throws a strike to Crabtree at the five. Jamize Olawale punches in the touchdown. The Silver and Black miss the two-point conversion, as the score is 19-24.
  • Saints answer with a field goal drive. Mark Ingrim dragging defenders and Drew Brees dodged Raiders pass pressure. A questionable P.I. call keeps the drive alive.
  • Richard busts 75-yard touchdown run that gives the Raiders a chance to tie the game. Carr then finds Cooper for two-point conversion. Game tied at 27.
  • New Orleans scores after a deep pass to Snead is fumbled but then recovered by a fellow-Saints receiver. Brees throws fourth touchdown as they go up 34-27.
  • Crabtree makes great catch on Raiders answering drive. Carr throws ball late, but Crabtree finds the ball. Raiders miss on some passes within the twenty. A pass interference call on Jalen Richard saves the drive on fourth down. Seth Roberts scores touchdown which ties the game at with less than a minute left. Crabtree catches two-point conversion to give Oakland 35-34 lead with :47 left in the game.
  • Willie Snead catches a couple of passes in the middle of the field for the Saints. New Orleans kicked a 61-yard-filed goal attempt which was wide right.

 

Ultimately, the secondary struggling almost cost them the game.Hayden had some penalties and Smith got beat. They also had some questionable tackling from their linebackers. Carr’s decision making was also late. However, he did enough to lead the Silver and Black to their first win of the season.

What a game?!

Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints: First Half Notes

The Oakland Raiders took on the New Orleans Saints for the first game of the season. The Saints lead 17-10 at home.

DEFENSE:

  • Bruce Irvin sacked and forced a fumble on Drew Brees which ends first drive. Leads to first points of the season off of Sebastian Janikowski kick.
  • Mark Ingrim gets 12 and 20-yard gains for Saints on the second series. Saints held to a field goal, which ties game at three all.
  • Tim Hightower gets run going again later in first. Willie Snead tears apart Raiders. Snead Catches a deep ball that puts them in the red zone. He then catches short fourth and goal touchdown pass to make game 10-10.
  • Saints go up 17-10 in second quarter thanks to Brandin  Cooks touchdown pass. He beat D.J. Hayden in coverage. Sean Smith also gave up the crucial play that put Saints inside the red zone. Michael Thomas catches a pass, then registers some yards after the catch.
  • D.J. Hayden gets defensive holding call that negates Bruce Irvin sack. Luckily, Raiders defense forces punt with a little more than a minute left in first half.

OFFENSE:

  • Latavius Murray gets the Raiders first touchdown of the year via an 11-yard run thanks to an Amari Cooper sprawling catch which put Raiders at the five-yard-line. It was Cooper’s second catch on the drive. Oakland goes up 10-3.
  • Jalen Richard made his first appearance with a catch in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Taiwan Jones loses eight yards on a carry later in the first half.
  • Derek Carr shows his scrambling ability in second quarter. Makes first down run and leaps for extra yards. However, this drive did not lead to points.
  • Menelik Watson goes down during Raiders final drive with about a minute left in the second quarter. He walks off the field on his own, but it looked like an ankle injury.
  • Cooper catches the final pass of the half via a hitch route.

Oakland must try to stop the run on defense. Hightower and Ingrim were having their way. On offense, look for Oakland to continue establishing the run. Hopefully, Watson’s injury is not serious. Backup right tackle Austin Howard got hurt last week, so he is inactive.