by TREVOR KAPIGIAN
The Raiders 2016 season was one to remember. They ended their fourteen-year playoff drought, won twelve games (first time since 2002), had an MVP candidate with quarterback Derek Carr, defensive star in Khalil Mack, and a pro bowl offensive and pro bowl wide receiver with Amari Cooper.
Coming off a 7-9 season, the Raiders had high hopes for this season. On offense, they had Derek Carr, who led them to five fourth quarter/overtime victories. Carr had arguably the best offensive line in the league that was lead by three pro bowlers: Left Tackle Donald Penn, Left Guard Kelechi Osemele, and Center Rodney Hudson. The running backs for the Raiders were a big part this season. The Raiders used three backs this season, Latavius Murray and rookies DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. Richard, undrafted, became a big playmaker for the Raiders, while Murray would take a bulk of the carries and Washington showed great flashes this season. The wide receivers for Oakland played great ball this year. Second year pro, and two-time pro bowler Amari Cooper had career high in catches (83), yards (1,153), and set a franchise record with 21 catches going over 20 yards. Then veteran Michael Crabtree was a huge contributor this season. He had a team high 89 receptions, with 1,003 yards, and team high 8 touchdowns.
Oakland’s defense this year started off shaky, but picked it up as the season went on. It was led by Star D-End who had 73 tackles, 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and an interception that went for a pick six. Free Agent signing Bruce Irvin had a career high 57 tackles, with 7 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles. Linebacker, Malcolm Smith, had a team high 103 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. The Raiders had another Pro Bowl defensive player in Free Agent safety Reggie Nelson. Nelson had 65 tackles going along with 5 interceptions.
The Raiders looked like a team with hopes of going, and possibly winning the Super Bowl. But in a home game in Week 16 against the Colts, Derek Carr went down pointing at his leg yelling that “It’s broke”. It would turn out Carr broke his fibula and would miss the rest of the season and playoffs. Backup Matt McGloin would later get injured the next week against the Broncos, having rookie Connor Cook step in. Cook had never dressed out for a game that season as the Raiders planned to redshirt him this season. But, Cook would have to make his first career start against the Houston Texans in the playoffs. Cook threw for a touchdown and three interceptions in a game dominated by the Texan’s defense.
2017 seems promising for the Raiders, as they look to fix their holes they had this past season, get healthy and become the real threat they are and make their Super Bowl run.