In 2016, quarterback Derek Carr led a Raiders offense that was the sixth best in the NFL, averaging 373.3 yards per game. It helped power Oakland to a 12-4 record and a postseason berth for the first time since 2002.
Since then, the Raiders have added even more offensive weapons, with running back Marshawn Lynch, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Jared Cook.
Now, some see the Raiders’ offense as being among the NFL’s elite in 2017.
Analyst Chris Wesseling of NFL.com recently projected the Raiders as having the fourth-best offense in the league for the coming season. His top five are the Patriots at No. 1, followed by the Steelers, Falcons, Raiders and Cowboys.
Wesseling points to the strength of the offensive line and a deep corps of running backs led by Lynch, second-year ballcarriers DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard and rookie Elijah Hood, and a receiving corps that should be even deeper than last year, when it was among the team’s best units. Wesseling believes Amari Cooper – who’s been terrific his first two years – still has room to grow in his third pro season.
“Although Cooper has shown flashes of All-Pro-caliber play, he simply hasn’t maintained the consistency of a legitimate No. 1 receiver,” he wrote. “Cook’s speed will make him a welcome addition as (Clive) Walford’s replacement down the seam. Patterson and (Seth) Roberts should split No. 3 receiver duties, with the former specializing in in-breaking run-after-catch routes and the latter maintaining a more traditional slot role.”
Plus, says Wessling, the Raiders paid attention to what happened late last season, when Carr went down with a season-ending injury. That left the QB duties to Matt McGloin – since departed – and rookie Connor Cook, who’d never taken an NFL snap. So, general manager Reggie McKenzie signed former Bills starter E.J. Manuel to be the primary backup. Manuel and Cook, who’ll continue to grow, should be able to provide more at the position in 2017 should Carr be knocked out again.
Manuel was eager to sign with the Raiders, who feature his former quarterbacks coach in Buffalo, Todd Downing, as offensive coordinator.
“I just want to be an addition,” Manuel told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group after signing in Oakland. “I’m not an ego guy. I’m not driven by that. … I want to be here to help this franchise and team to be where they are in whatever role or capacity that is. That’s what I’m excited to do.”