Inside the Raiders: Who are the standouts of a 5-3 start? Glad you asked

Passing out some honors at the midway point of a 5-3 season for the Raiders heading in to Sunday’s game at Allegiant Stadium against the Denver Broncos:

Most Valuable Player

Derek Carr

Flashback to 2016. The Raiders are up 33-14 on the Indianapolis Colts on Christmas Eve, on the verge of improving to 12-3. Derek Carr is sacked by Trent Cole and breaks his right fibula. They’re outscored 52-20 the rest of the way through the end of the Colts game, the season finale in Denver and then a playoff loss in Houston. And it wasn’t that close. They were helpless without him.

Carr is every bit as important now as he was then, playing better and more in control of a superior offensive system. The efficiency (110.0), completion percentage (69.8), touchdown-to-interception ratio (16 to 2) . . .  pick any stat you want and either highlight or disregard it and it doesn’t matter. Carr is doing it with his arm, both short and deep. He’s doing it it with his feet, escaping pressure and scrambling for first downs. He’s doing it with his head as the CEO quarterback coach Jon Gruden desires.

The season crashes and burns without him.

Runner-up: No one else is close.

The only thing missing from the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs (28) is a breakaway run or two. AP photoOffensive Player of the Year

Josh Jacobs

Yes, the 3.7 yards per carry average is troubling. Of course, Eddie George used to run all over the Raiders and averaged 3.6 for a career. Jacobs is still breaking tackles, getting first downs and setting the physical tone Gruden demands out of his offense. He is the complement Carr needs to keep his attempts somewhere near the team rushing totals with 161 attempts for 588 yards and six touchdowns.

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As much as the Raiders made a big deal about involving Jacobs in the passing game, that will always be a secondary part of his game. Jacobs is the stiff left jab that keeps opponents on their heels, and if he breaks off a few runs longer than 16 yards in the second half, he’ll get his average over 4.0 per carry.

Runner-up: Darren Waller

Center Rodney Hudson ranks with the best centers in Raiders franchise history. Aric Crabb/Bay Area News GroupLineman of the Year

Rodney Hudson

Good enough to protect from the push up the middle, quick enough to get outside and pull, smart enough and tough enough to set the standard for the rest of a very good offensive line.

The Raiders have had some very good centers such as Jim Otto, Dave Dalby, Don Mosebar and Barret Robbins (yes, he was very good before his life came apart). Hudson is as good as any of them and the single best acquisition former general manager Reggie McKenzie ever made. Signed him away from the Chiefs, no less.

Runner-up: Kolton Miller

Guard Gabe Jackson (66) has been a physical and dominating presence at guard for the Raiders. Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesComeback Player of the Year

Gabe Jackson

After two subpar seasons due to injury, the Raiders could have either released Jackson …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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