Oakland Raiders midseason report card

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Oakland Raiders midseason report card

GRAPHIC BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

GRAPHIC BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

GRAPHIC BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

GRAPHIC BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

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Halfway through the 2015-2016 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders have found themselves in an unfamiliar position. The silver and black are 4-5 and in striking distance of nabbing a coveted playoff spot.

The Raiders have accumulated a core group of young players and veterans that have created a strong foundation for the team’s future. They also have new Head Coach Jack Del Rio, who is from Hayward and understands the Oakland Raiders culture: big hits, long passing plays and a bad boy style of defense that doesn’t care about penalties as long as they win the game.

The Raiders haven’t been to the playoffs since 2003 the same year former head coach Jon Gruden left to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the same team that destroyed them in Super Bowl XXXVII. But everything’s about to change. Oakland is primed for a playoff push late this season. It’s going to be messy. The team has already sustained major injuries, and this will only continue. But they will push anyway, because they’re good enough on offense to have a chance. Let’s take a look at how this season has progressed so far.

Offense: B+

Carr has been the brightest spot on a great offense for Oakland. He has found comfort in a pair of new wide receivers. Rookie wide out, Cooper and veteran receiver and San Francisco 49ers transplant, Michael Crabtree have caught over half of Carr’s 2,369 passing yards and 9 of his 21 touchdowns this season. Third-year running back Latavius Murray has also carried a large offensive load and ranks sixth in the league in rushing. Murray has 678 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on 144 rushing attempts. Free agent offensive line acquisition, Rodney Hudson, has been dominant in the middle. The center missed last week with a leg injury and replacement Tony Bergstrom had trouble all day in the loss to the Vikings.

Defense: D

The defense has let the team down consistently all year long. The secondary has been abused by opposing quarterbacks, especially maligned former first-round draft pick Hayden. Hayden is terrible, and in a league that thrives on passing, without a dominant corner it could be a long season for the defense. The Raiders are one of four teams to allow over 400 yards per game this season. Safety Nate Allen just returned from injury and despite his presence, the Vikings still dominated the Raiders defense. Oakland is allowing more points than they score per game at 25.2 points per game and give up 26.8. Veteran defensive lineman Justin Tuck was injured two weeks ago and placed on the injured reserve list ending his season. Tuck would have been helpful late in the fourth quarter when Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson broke an 80-yard run to put the game out of reach. Teams are running away from second-year standout Khalil Mack who has still managed to record 5 sacks so far this year.

Coaching: B-

Del Rio has done a great job developing some of the young players, especially lineman Mack and Mario Edwards Jr. However, some game management incidents have come up that show Del Rio has issues during the game. Last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Raiders had the ball with just under two minutes left and three timeouts remaining. Del Rio elected to kill the clock and go to halftime, a decision that contributed to the three-point loss that he regretted after the game. He said he wished he would have allowed Carr take advantage of that situation, but the Raiders were concerned he would make a mistake before the break. Being a Hayward resident and a longtime Oakland fan, Del Rio has begun to reinstitute the silver and black culture in the team which shows on game day and makes up for some of the game mismanagement.

Overall: C+

It’s hard to give them a grade greater than a C since they are currently under .500 and on the bubble when it comes to playoffs. The Raiders have been stellar on offense, even dominant at times when the ball is in the hands of second year quarterback Derek Carr. Carr has made a great connection with first round draft pick wide receiver Amari Cooper who is on his way to rewriting the rookie receiving records for the Raiders. However, the defense, which ranks 30th in the league overall can’t stop a nosebleed. Besides 16-year veteran Charles Woodson leading the league in interceptions, it has been the primary reason for many if not all of the losses. The cornerbacks have been especially disappointing with DJ Hayden, David Amerson and Neiko Thorpe consistently giving up game-changing passing plays. First-year coach Del Rio has also had his share of admitted mistakes that have led to the average season so far.