Oakland Raiders: 2017 first quarter report card
By John Buhler
Oakland has historically prioritized special teams more than arguably any other organization in the NFL. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Silver and Black have had great special teams play through the first quarter of the 2017 NFL season.
Oakland is getting outstanding play out of its quirky punter Marquette King. He is straight up booming kicks and pinning the opposition deep in their own territory on several occasions. That fake punt on Sunday versus Denver wasn’t great, but King has been huge in giving the Raiders’ defense better field position opportunities to succeed. He might be an All-Pro this year.
Losing long-time kicker Sebastian Janikowski to IR with a herniated disc in his back could have sunk the Raiders on special teams. Instead, we’ve seen the future of the placekicking position out of 27-year-old Italian American rookie Giorgio Tavecchio.
He has been a perfect 7-7 on his field goal attempts, including two from 52-yards in his NFL debut versus Tennessee. Though he hasn’t had more than one field goal attempt in the last three games, Tavecchio has been quite the find for the Raiders. Oakland feels confident every time he’s out there to attempt a kick.
The return game has been mostly good. Cordarrelle Patterson has been a huge pickup on kickoff returns. He had a big return on Sunday versus Denver. Keep in mind he was an All-Pro return man for the Minnesota Vikings. Punt returning has been inconsistent. Jalen Richard has had a muffed punt or two, but nothing overly costly.
Overall, the Raiders have been able to hang in games due to strong play from its special teams unit. Through the first part of the season, the special teams is outplaying the offense and defense. That’s not a great thing to say, but most teams would kill for the Raiders’ special teams unit. It’s been a huge boost for this team for sure.