RAIDERS 2016 TEAM AWARDS: The Oakland Raiders shed several demons by posting a winning record and making the playoffs. As good as it was, we’ll all look back at 2016 knowing it could have been much more had Derek Carr stayed healthy. And now expectations are high for the 2017 campaign. Before we get there, however, we’re pausing to hand out Team Awards.
OAKLAND RAIDERS 2016 TEAM AWARDS
At one point, we, like so many others were looking at Jack Del Rio as the NFL’s Head Coach of the Year. Then came the loss of Derek Carr. It wasn’t that Oakland lost the season finale to Denver and thus the AFC West. Nor was it the loss to Houston in the Wildcard. Losing a potential MVP QB is difficult and the shoulder injury to Matt McGloin only confounded the problem. It was rather, that the Raiders were vastly outplayed in those final two games. It was Del Rio’s job to get his players to rise up and “embrace the suck”. Forget NFL Coach of the Year, he’s not even our Raider Coach of the Year.
That award goes to Offensive Line Coach, Mike Tice. The Raiders offensive line was arguably one of the NFL’s best despite injuries ravaging the Tackle position. Throughout the year five different players manned the Right Tackle spot and Tice did a masterful job preparing his men across the entire line. Losing Donald Penn showed an utter lack of depth at a key position but we put that more on GM Reggie McKenzie and to a certain extent Jack Del Rio.
There’s no debate, it’s Derek Carr. He ended the year with 26 TDs, only 6 picks, and a QBR of 96.7. In reality, in today’s NFL, those stats are very good but not exceptional. What made Carr special was his 7 4th quarter comebacks and a 4th quarter QBR of 110.1. The number of comebacks were second only to Matthew Stafford and the rating second only to Tom Brady. Carr’s prowess energized the Raiders with confidence and propelled them to the playoffs.
Looking for a runner up? Our 2015 offensive MVP, WR Michael Crabtree, led the team with 89 receptions and 8 receiving TDs. He also led the NFL with 9 drops. WR Amari Cooper led the team with 1,153 yards but often disappeared in the second half. RB Latavius Murray racked up 788 rushing yards and 12 TDs (5th in NFL). He was also tied for 4th with 33 receptions. Murray struggled with pass protection early in his career but turned things around in 2016. His running brought physicality and attitude to the Raider running game. And thus Latavius Murray is our runner up, albeit it’s wide chasm between #1 and #2.
Once again, there’s no debate. Khalil Mack accounted for 44% of the Raiders sacks (11 of 25). He was the Raiders second leading tackler and was second in the NFL with 5 forced fumbles. His 25 QB Hurries were nearly double the nearest Raider (Irvin with 14). He also led the team in Stuffs and Tackles for Loss. The defensive players continuously looked to Mack for leadership and game breaking plays.
Although the secondary was much aligned, our runner up is FS Reggie Nelson. Nelson led the team with 5 interceptions and was second on the team with 12 Passes Defensed. His 12 PDs ranked second among NFL Safeties. He also played every defensive snap for the Oakland Raiders, which is quite a statement. Bruce Irvin didn’t have the year many hoped for but was forceful at times. He recorded 7 sacks and led the NFL with 6 forced fumbles.
Lacking an elite returner, this award usually goes to the Kicker or Punter. Yet Janikowksi was only 3 of 8 from 50+ whereas King was golden for most of the season but began to wane in the final weeks. We debated this pick to the very end as some felt Marquette King should be the MVP but others were bothered by his performance in the final weeks and the killer punt return for a TD versus Denver. In the end, we’re giving our Special Teams MVP Award to Specialist Brynden Trawick who recorded 15 ST tackles, 4th best in the NFL.