The Oakland Raiders have some work to do to get ready for the second half of the season. Here are the five best offensive players from the first nine games.
The Oakland Raiders take their 4-5 record into their bye in Week 10. Though it wasn’t anything close to the first half that the Silver and Black would have hoped for, the Raiders aren’t out of the AFC playoff picture just yet.
Oakland will presumably have to go 5-2 the rest of the way to achieve a 9-7 record to get that No. 6 seed. To be fair, the upcoming schedule is brutal. The Raiders will have to play all three division rivals once again, the Dallas Cowboys, the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. Oakland’s only easy game will be at home versus the lowly New York Giants.
Fortunately for the Raiders, there is plenty of room for improvement. We haven’t seen this team play its best ball up to this point. A big reason for this is that the offense has largely underwhelmed under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing. Switching from a power to zone blocking scheme up front has hurt the Raiders running game considerably.
That being said, quarterback Derek Carr is starting to come alive at the halfway point as a passer. He is spreading the ball around quite well in the last three weeks. It should be no surprise that he has thrown for over 300 yards in all three games and the Raiders have a 2-1 record over that stretch.
What we’re going to do is highlight the top-five graded offensive players for the 2017 Raiders, according to Pro Football Focus. By looking at the data, we can have a better understanding of what is and isn’t working in this Raiders’ offense. Here are the five best offensive players on Oakland heading into the bye.
It’s no surprise that in the last three weeks that the Raiders’ passing game has improved considerably with tight end Jared Cook‘s inclusion. On the year, Cook leads the team with 499 receiving yards and 39 receptions. Though he only has one touchdown, he is having potentially a career year for the Raiders.
Pro Football Focus has given Cook a 77.9 overall grade. Of his 427 snaps, 270 of them have been pass snaps. He is garnering a 79.5 receiving grade, which is almost above average in the league. Cook is doing very well in terms of catch percentage, bringing in 70.9 percent of his targets. That is a number significantly higher than his previous career best of 64.4 percent when he was with the 2010 Tennessee Titans.
In a way, Cook has become Carr’s safety valve over the last three weeks. Getting the tight ends, particularly Cook, in the passing game might be what ultimately takes the pressure of Downing as Oakland’s coordinator. Cook’s sure hands have helped Carr improve in terms of completion percentage. They are making the receiving corps all the more explosive and versatile.
While Cook will never be a 1,000-yard receiving tight end, he can act as a solid No. 3, oversized slot receiver type in the Oakland passing game. He can create great mismatches with his speed and strength. The more comfortable he gets in this offense, the better Oakland will be at moving the sticks aerially.