OAKLAND RAIDERS FACTS AND STATS
2016 Draft first pick: 14 overall
2015 Finish: Third in AFC West
DIVISIONAL RECORD: 3-3
Total offense: 333.5 (24th)
Rushing: 91.1 (28th)
Passing: 242.4 (16th)
Total defense: 363.6 (22nd)
Rushing: 104.9: (13th)
Passing: 258.8 (26th)
COACH: Jack Del Rio
2nd season with Raiders
11th season as NFL head coach
76-82 overall; 1-2 postseason
--This team that appears to have everything going in the right direction. A good, young quarterback, a defensive star, a strong offseason, recent strong drafts and a strong-minded coach who grew up as a Raiders fan and brings the right spirit to the franchise.
2016 UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS
By TSX reporter covering team:
QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Derek Carr. Backups -- Matt McGloin, Connor Cook
Carr, with 53 touchdown passes in his first two seasons, has done everything but win consistently. That's what is expected of him in Year 3, and to do that he'll need to stay aggressive but at the same time avoid the fourth-quarter turnovers that plagued him in 2015. McGloin was given a second-round tender because he has some starting experience, has the kind of competitive edge which could make him a 10-year backup and won't back down from a challenge. Cook started slowly, and although he got better, doesn't look anywhere near ready to play. He'll be expected to assume the backup role next season when McGloin hits unrestricted free agency.
Murray gained 1,066 yards last season and the Raiders love his size-speed combination to be a lead back. He faded down the stretch last season, and also struggled during the preseason. The Raiders insist they aren't worried, in part because Washington, a fifth-round draft pick and Richard, an undrafted free agent, appear to be the kind of change-of-pace backs who can make a big difference a year after Carr was the second-leading rusher with 138 yards. Olawale has some block and catch ability when the Raiders utilize a fullback, far less than half the time. Jones still has electrifying speed, but the ship might have sailed on him as a running back. He's primarily a special teams gunner who can return kickoffs.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Clive Walford. Backups -- Lee Smith, Mychal Rivera
Walford will be given every opportunity, should he remain healthy, to get heavy work and develop into a 50-catch tight end capable of big plays in the seam and delivering in the red zone. Smith will get plenty of work as a blocker and occasional receiver. The coaches love his willingness to mix it up and do the dirty work. Rivera, capable of flexing as a receiver and even lining up in the backfield, is an athletic capable of receiver who was reportedly available by trade, with the Raiders not finding an offer worthy of his skill set.
Cooper (72 receptions, 1,070 yards, six touchdowns) had a solid rookie season although he tailed off considerably toward the end of the season in large part because of a foot injury. He also dropped way too many passes -- as many as 18. He has looked more confident and explosive in Year 2. Crabtree (85 catches, 922 yards, 9 touchdowns) was more reliable in terms of health and practice availability than at any time with the 49ers, and he seemed to flourish with Carr. Roberts (32 receptions, 480 yards) was a surprise emergence as a slot receiver. Holmes has jump-and-catch ability, caught five touchdown passes despite limited snaps, and contributed on special teams. Holton's speed and raw skill won him the fifth receiver spot. He could return kickoffs.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Donald Penn, LG Kelechi Osemele, C Rodney Hudson, RG Gabe Jackson, RT Menelik Watson. Backups -- T Austin Howard, G-C Jon Feliciano, T Matt McCants, G-T Vadal Alexander
Penn came back on a two-year contract to protect Carr's blind side and must demonstrate he can be a reliable run-blocker as well. With Osemele, a play-the-whistle-and-beyond type beside him, the hope is the Raiders will have a better push up front on running plays. Hudson was one of the best pass blocking centers in the game and the Raiders had no regrets making him a big ticket item in 2015 free agency. Jackson, the Raiders most punishing run-blocker a year ago, has seamlessly switched from left to right. Watson ran with the first team all offseason, remained healthy and won the job at right tackle. Howard becomes the swing tackle in case of injury. Feliciano got into better shape after his rookie season and becomes the primary backup at both center and guard. McCants has some experience at tackle, while Alexander needs to gain some agility and quickness but has the kind of pure power the Raiders want in their linemen.
Mack is the cornerstone of the defense, a standout run defender and one of the top edge players in the sport. Autry missed the offseason following a wrist injury, has worn a club on the hand all preseason but has been dominant since getting back on the field. Ward, thought to be a raw talent as a second-round draft pick, stepped in as a starter immediately and showed enough to be allowed to learn as he goes. Ellis beat out Williams as the starting nose tackle and has surprising agility for a player his size. Williams' conditioning was an issue early but he was the Raiders most reliable run defender in 2015 and will be in the rotation. Edwards' hip injury will cause him to miss at least the first half of the season. Latham, an undrafted free agent, performed well above what anyone expected and could get playing time immediately. McGee's time figures to be limited.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- SLB Bruce Irvin, MLB Ben Heeney, WLB Malcolm Smith. Backups -- ILB Cory James, OLB Shilique Calhoun, OLB Daren Bates.
Irvin, whose pass rushing skill never brought as many sacks in Seattle as hoped, could thrive playing in the same defense with Mack. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton plans on getting him in a pressure mode more often. Heeney can range side-to-side, but his ability to be stout vs. the run will need to be proven at 230 pounds. Smith is a heady player with a knack for being around the ball against both the pass and run. James, a sixth-round draft pick, was starting to push Heeney inside late at camp. Calhoun could thrive as another situational pass rusher. He showed up big late in the preseason. Bates was signed primarily to be a core special teams player.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB David Amerson, RCB Sean Smith, SS Karl Joseph, FS Reggie Nelson. Backups -- CB DJ Hayden, CB TJ Carrie, CB Dexter McDonald, CB Antonio Hamilton, S Nate Allen, S Keith McGill, S Brynden Trawick
Amerson, a bargain waiver claim from Washington last season, turned into the Raiders' top corner and earned a big contract extension. His height and long arms make him equally adept at press coverage and playing off the ball. Smith was one of the top free agent targets in the league and has a similar skill set. It's the best set of starting corners the Raiders have had in decades. Joseph, a the No. 15 overall pick, brings a physicality to his position that belies his 5-foot-10, 205-pound size. Nelson intercepted a career-high eight passes for the Bengals last season and has big shoes to fill, replacing Charles Woodson. Hayden will be given the job as slot corner and the hope is he runs with it in a contract year. Carrie surprisingly never challenged Hayden and it remains to be seen if he's a corner, a safety or a hybrid who can return punts. McDonald's length is similar to that of the two starters and he had a strong training camp and preseason. Hamilton's inclusion on the original 53-man roster was a surprise. Allen, who accepted a pay cut to remain, played well in preseason games and will be counted upon if Nelson has health issues. McGill hopes to earn time as a converted corner and Trawick is a core special teams player.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Sebastian Janikowski, P Marquette King, LS Jon Condo, PR TJ Carrie, KR DeAndre Washington, KR Jalen Richard
Janikowski is still an accurate and dangerous kicker from both short and long, although there were times when Del Rio opted to punt a year ago rather than send him out for a 50-plus-yard attempt. His kickoffs aren't what they once were. King, who got a hefty contract extension, has continued to improve his touch punting, can kick as deep as anyone and could be a Pro Bowl punter on a winning team. Returns, always an issue with the Raiders, remain wide open. Carrie has the most experience on punts but is far from a lock. Washington and Richard showed some explosion on kickoffs.
PRACTICE SQUAD: WR K.J. Brent, CB Kenneth Durden, DL Branden Jackson, G Denver Kirkland, WR Jaydon Mickens, TE Ryan O'Malley, G-C Oni Omoile, LB Korey Toomer, LB Jason Fanaika, LB Curtis Grant
All times Eastern
Sept. 11, at New Orleans, 10:00
Sept. 18, ATLANTA, 1:25
Sept. 25, at Tennessee, 10:00
Oct. 2, at Baltimore, 10:00
Oct. 9, SAN DIEGO, 1:25
Oct. 16, KANSAS CITY, 1:05
Oct. 23, at Jacksonville, 10:00
Oct. 30, at Tampa Bay, 10:00
Nov. 6, DENVER, 5:30
Nov. 21, HOUSTON (Mexico City), 5:30
Nov. 27, CAROLINA, 1:25
Dec. 4, BUFFALO, 1:05
Dec. 8, at Kansas City (Thu.), 5:25
Dec. 18, at San Diego, 1:25
Dec. 24, INDIANAPOLIS (Sat.), 1:05
Jan. 1, at Denver, 1:25