The Oakland Raiders hope the additions to the team made during the offseason will be enough to put them over the top. Will there be anything they regret?
With the start of the 2017 NFL season mere weeks away, the return of Oakland Raiders football is finally just around the corner. With plenty of new faces — including free agents and rookies alike — the sight of seeing the Silver and Black back on the field is thrilling for Raiders fans everywhere.
The 2016 Raiders were an exciting team, but they weren’t without their flaws. Reggie McKenzie did address a few of these flaws in the offseason, but going into 2017, some holes still remain.
Brag Gagnon, a featured columnist at Bleacher Report, recently looked at every NFL teams biggest regret this offseason, giving his opinion on how these regrets would affect the 2017 season. For the Raiders, he believes that not giving Derek Carr more support was their biggest mistake during the offseason:
Crabtree is one of the most overrated players in the game, and the Raiders didn’t bring in anyone who might have had a chance to challenge him in camp. No one knows what they will get from Patterson, Andre Holmes has gone and Cook hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency, either.
The Raiders remain in fantastic shape and are a Super Bowl contender, but a lack of weapons not named Cooper could cost them in 2017.
While Gagnon does bring up a few fair points to consider, his general analysis was a head scratcher for me. His claim of the Raiders not bringing in enough support for their franchise quarterback misses the mark, because the team did exactly the opposite.
Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders convinced Marshawn Lynch to come out or retirement while also adding Jared Cook, Cordarrelle Patterson and Marshall Newhouse, who can all contribute in one way or another to help take the offense to the next level. Not to mention the change of offensive coordinators from Bill Musgrave to Todd Downing, which could also pay dividends.
In regard to his claim about Crabtree being overrated, the truth is that he has revived his career in Oakland and has been a consistent weapon for the offense since his signing. Over the past two seasons, Crabtree has played in all 32 games while securing 174 catches for 1,925 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns. He has been a reliable playmaker and has showed no signs of slowing down.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that Crabtree is one of Carr’s favorite targets in the red zone. In 2016 alone, Crabtree received 21 targets inside the 20 yard-line, which resulted in 12 catches for 96 yards and 6 touchdowns. Those 21 targets tied for fourth most in the entire NFL, so he has certainly proven his worth as a strong no. 2 option opposite of Amari Cooper.
Jared Cook was a notable addition to the Raiders offseason this offseason, and he figures to make an immediate impact. Clive Walford hasn’t yet lived up to expectations, and with room for improvement at the tight end position, McKenzie went out and found exactly that.
Gagnon claims that Cook has had an inconsistent career, which may be true from a statistical standpoint, but let’s take a look at the quarterbacks he has played with throughout his career:
- 2009 (TEN): Vince Young and Kerry Collins
- 2010 (TEN): Vince Young, Kerry Collins and Rusty Smith
- 2011 (TEN): Matt Hasselbeck
- 2012 (TEN): Jake Locker, Matt Hasselbeck
- 2013 (STL): Kellen Clemens and Sam Bradford
- 2014 (STL): Austin Davis and Shaun Hill
- 2015 (STL): Nick Foles and Case Keenum
- 2016 (GB): Aaron Rodgers
Not exactly a list full of superstars — ofcourse, with the only outlier being Rodgers, whom Cook played with last season. With Green Bay, Cook caught 30 passes for 377 yards and 1 touchdown. Cook’s game elevated in the playoffs, hauling in 18 receptions for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns in three games.
So with Cook being tabbed as “inconsistent”, it’s safe to say that much of this has been the result of his situation. With Derek Carr now as his quarterback and other weapons on the offense, Cook could prove to be a valuable, under the radar commodity.
Despite being on the wrong side of 30, Marshawn Lynch should be fresh after a year off from the game, and since he won’t be asked to handle a full workload, he should end up being an upgrade over Latavius Murray. Cordarrelle Patterson adds athleticism as a intriguing wrinkle to the offense and Marshall Newhouse could offer stability and/or depth along the offensive line.
The Raiders certainly aren’t perfect, but the notion that they did not do enough to help Derek Carr this offseason falls flat. They loaded up on talent on the offensive side of the ball, and as a result, have put Carr in a situation to be even better in 2017. The team may have some regrets this offseason, but not doing enough on offense will not be one of them.