Oakland Raiders Regular Season Awards
The Oakland Raiders (12-5) concluded their season with a 27-14 AFC Wild Card loss to the Houston Texans (10-7).
Nonetheless, the Raiders made many strides into their first playoff berth since 2002. Take a look at some of the noteworthy performances from the Oakland Raiders season.
Team MVP and Offensive Player of the Year: Derek Carr
96.7 passer rating.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) January 10, 2017
Is there any question that Derek Carr is the Raiders MVP? Just look at the last two games where the Raiders put up a combined 20 points without Carr. The team averaged more per game in the regular season.
Carr missed the last two games and it deflated the 12-4 team. Carr led the sixth-ranked offense. He helped this team comeback from multiple fourth quarter deficits. The Raiders QB was the figurehead and emotional leader of a team that developed into a serious playoff contender.
Carr has a legitimate claim on the league’s version of this award. Either way, he is Oakland’s unquestioned MVP.
Defensive Player of the Year: Khalil Mack
"Khalil Mack’s the type of player that you have to know where he is on every snap."
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) January 6, 2017
Again, this is an easy one. Mack accounted for 11 sacks and four turnovers. He was the most consistent player on a defense that gave up the seventh most yards per game and thirteenth most points overall.
You can tell Mack’s value by how mediocre the defense looked in the final four games, where Mack did not register a sack.
Otherwise, the Raiders went through multiple starters on every level of the defense. Mack is really the only player worth noting here. He finished the season as Pro Football Focus’top graded edge player for the season.
Best newcomer: Kelechi Osemele
Kelechi Osemele brought a toughness to this Raiders offense since he signed as a free agent. You can see that just by searching for some of his highlights on YouTube or twitter.
— Josh Cohen (@JCohen_NFL) January 9, 2017
Osemele made the Pro Bowl in his first year as a Raider. He helped two rookie running backs get more than 400 rushing yards each. Murray also got more than 700 rushing yards behind Osemele and this offensive line.
In the passing game, the Raiders allowed the least amount of sacks in the league. Football Outsiders ranked them as the best pass-blocking line in the league as they only allowed 18 sacks for the season.
More importantly, No. 70 should keep doing more of these things as he continues his career in Oakland. Osemele graded as the fourth-best guard in the NFL, according to PFF.
Biggest Flop: The Defensive Tackle Play
— Dan Williams (@MrDanWilliams) January 7, 2017
Again, the Raiders defense was largely inconsistent. Most of that started with the guys on the defensive line, specifically the defensive tackles.
Either way, the Raiders played a laundry list of guys in the middle, because each player had their downfalls. This was supposed to be one of the deepest positions, but it is really one of the weakest.
Dan Williams is a great guy, but he clearly lost a step last season. Justin Ellis never seemed healthy or conditioned enough. Stacy McGee was also banged up. Denico Autry, Mario Edwards and Jihad Ward played the inside position out of need more than talent. Darius Latham was probably the most consistent player in the middle, which tells you about the group considering he was an undrafted free agent rookie.
Oakland has tried to fix this problem with late draft picks and veteran additions, the past few seasons. However, this is the year they should splurge on the position via a first round pick or free agent signing.
Rookie of the year: Jalen Richard
Richard provided many key offensive sparks for the Raiders this season, including a punt return that led to the team’s only first half score in the AFC Wild Card loss to the Texans.
It helps that Richard has a great story. He was an undrafted rookie who played his way onto the roster. He earned some return duties as well as targets and handoffs with the offense.
More importantly, he was the Raiders most consistent rookie. First-year players like Shilique Calhoun, Karl Joseph, Cory James and Latham also deserve some mention. Each player had their moments and flashes for the defense. However, all of them were largely inconsistent.
Richard also gets the nod over fellow rookie DeAndre Washington thanks to Richard’s presence in the return game. Richard averaged 23.6 yards on kick returns and 9 yards per punt returns.
It helps that Richard’s first carry in the NFL went for a TD, and he finished the season with 491 rushing yards.
[Featured Image by Daniel Gluskoter/AP Images]