Which player surprised you the most, and who disappointed the most?
I’d say the rookie RBs surprised me the most. I didn’t expect much from them, but they proved to be an awesome complement to Latavius this season.
While Khalil Mack still did everything better than most, he’s not great at consistently disrupting games. He disappears for long stretches and has miles to go before he can be in the same dominant conversation as that Denver Donkey. I’m thinking Lawrence Taylor for this cat, not Julius Peppers.
Stacy McGee surprised me. A guy who had been buried on the depth chart somewhat started playing some seriously good football given the chance. He gave us a stronger presence in the middle than we were used to, and showed he has promise.
Malcolm Smith disappointed me the most. I like the guy, I really do. But for a Super Bowl MVP he’s been so frustrating to watch. Granted he’s made some good plays, but the amount of boneheaded pass interference and defensive holding calls he commits is atrocious. His pass coverage is woeful at best and so many crucial catches are made against him. Incredibly frustrating to watch a guy who is athletically gifted, play with a complete lack of discipline, especially in the passing game.
Surprised: Jalen Richard. Nobody seemed to have a real handle on the rookie before the season. Scouting reports wildly conflicted and most had nothing of real value to say about him. But Richard was crucial in his role as part of the three-headed running back attack that successfully kept many a defender on their toes. Add in his value as a return man and you’re looking at the type of value you typically only get out of created players in Madden. Super excited to see how he grows within the team over the next few years.
Disappointed: Sean Smith. There’s a lot to say about this defense and a full variety of sounds reasons why it didn’t do so well. However, Sean Smith was brought in specifically to be a plug and play guy to get physical with big receivers and lock down his man, and he did not achieve that goal. It’s still yet to be seen if he’s one of those free agent pickups Bill Barnwell would label as “scheme guy out of scheme”, but at least for this year, he under-delivered.
The player that surprised me the most would be Jalen Richard. Richard was the third-string RB coming into the year, and solidified himself as the #2 before the year was over. He also contributed on special teams and really helped the Raiders win the field position battle with his returns.
The player that disappointed me would be Sean Smith. There are arguments that Smith wasn’t used correctly, but he still gave up way too many big plays and was by far the biggest free agent bust for the Raiders. He looked slow and lost on way too many occasions.
Jalen Richard. He showed some burst in camp, but was hurt early on and rarely able to show what he could do consistently. That he was an undrafted free agent who remained around even when injured said something about his potential, and he paid that faith off with the 75-yard TD against the Saints on his first NFL carry. Man that was amazing, the run itself sure, but also the timing and the nature of how it happened for Richard, on his first carry in his home state.
Jalen spent the rest of the season steadily making big plays in the run and pass and return games, and showed he’s a weapon no matter where you put him or how you use him. Pretty incredible for a guy who was passed over by everyone multiple times. He and DeAndre Washington are good young backs that have revitalized the run game and can carry the load if the Tay-Train leaves in free agency.
Both corners — Smith and Amerson — for most disappointing. Amerson was a revelation when he came over from Washington early in 2015, and he led the NFL in pass breakups. He started the 2016 season well, but tapered off toward the end. He was routinely beaten on big plays and committed numerous untimely holding and PI penalties. He just wasn’t the same player this year, whether that was scheme or parts around him or what. He just, particularly in the last half of the season, became more of a liability than an asset.
Smith was misused from the start. A long, strong corner who excels in press coverage, Smith was instead asked to play off his man much of the time. The aforementioned Cooks touchdown should’ve shown in Week 1 that Smith cannot hang with speedy receivers in a footrace and instead needs to get in their grill and disrupt timing. He was never really given the chance, and his play suffered as a result.
Brynden Trawick. Living in Baltimore, they made a big deal over him accidentally hurting his teammate Jacoby Jones. Trawick and Jones collided on a punt return against the Broncos in 2013, and they never let it go. I kind of felt for the guy, things happen. But when he came to Oakland, I wondered how he would fit in the system. I’ve been praising about his special teams play all season, but he really proved his hunger in the last two games while filling in at safety.
Seth Roberts disappointed me the most, because his skill set is incredible. Blocking, speed, route running it’s all there. But he just can’t seem to consistently catch the damn ball.
Osemele surprised me, but very much in a good way, I know there was some concern coming into this season due to his position and massive contract but he played up to it. In fact you could he say outplayed it. The offense looked completely different in the Chiefs game and Carr had his worst game, statistically.
Most disappointing? Sean Smith, enough said.
Jalen Richard is definitely the biggest surprise. The hype started to grow early in training camp, which led to expectations that were quite unreasonable for an undrafted free agent — and all Richard did was go out and exceed those expectations anyway. Richard flashed big-time potential as a back, pass-catcher and return man. He certainly can be a factor for years to come.
Honorable mention to Perry Riley Jr. as the biggest surprise. Coming off the street and playing as well as he did was quite impressive, and hopefully he sticks around next season.
The biggest disappointment is easily Sean Smith, and it’s not even close. While I am in the boat that he was misused much of the season — Smith should only ever be in press coverage — he was awful even outside of that. Allowing the second most receiving yards in the NFL is acceptable, regardless if the scheme you are playing in doesn’t fit your skill set.
Carr was the most surprising. He ascended from good quarterback to elite quarterback this season, after his performance when pressured was greatly scrutinized coming out of Fresno State as a second-round pick and his brother turned out to be one of the biggest draft-busts of all time. He’s 25 and looks like he could be a Hall of Famer.
Clive Walford was the most disappointing. His college highlights made me think he had an opportunity to be a game-changer and a dangerous third-weapon for Carr. He only recorded 359 receiving yards and 3 TDs this season (4th on the team in both categories behind Seth Roberts). With the year Carr had, I certainly would have thought Walford would have been much more of a factor in his sophomore campaign, but his stats from year one to year two were almost exactly identical in every single category.
Jalen Richard was easily the biggest surprise of the season for me. Usually, when a guy breaks out in training camp/preseason, it’s taken with a grain of salt, because the “games don’t count”, and “it’s against subpar competition and basic defenses”. And a lot of times, that’s proven true, as those breakout stars tend to level off in the regular season and only show flashes, if anything, of the ability that excited you in the first place.
Jalen Richard was the opposite of that. He made his presence on the roster felt in the very first game of the season, and never really let his foot off the gas. And it seems like in every game afterward, whether he got two touches or twelve, he did something that made you say “…damn”. Here’s hoping he doubles down on that next season.
The most disappointing player was quite easily Sean Smith. Whether the blame falls on him or how he was used, $12 million-dollar liabilities do not inspire confidence, and are not afforded very much benefit of the doubt. The defense has to be much better for the Raiders to come anywhere close to replicating and improving on their success this season — and that only happens if our CB1 plays like a CB1.
The player who surprised me the most was Jalen Richard. He did an excellent job of changing the pace and spelling Latavius Murray. He also made a nice contribution on ST and I think he has a nice future in this league.
I’m most disappointed in Crabtree. He had a nice season topping 1,000 yards, but he led the league in drops and it seemed like every drop he had would take the wind out of a series.
I was most impressed by Donald Penn. I thought he’d start to take a step back as he aged, but he was as good as ever and he was a big reason for the offensive success.
I was disappointed by Sean Smith. I thought he and David Amerson would become a dynamic CB duo locking down offenses. That wasn’t the case. I hope Smith makes a big jump next season.
Derek Carr. I thought he was good but I don’t expect him to take it to another level like he did.
Jihad Ward is the person whom let me down the most, I didn’t like the luck in the first place and his performances on the field made it even worse for me.