PFF Recap: Oakland Raiders vs. Indianapolis Colts
Reaction and analysis to Pro Football Focus grades of the Oakland Raiders in Week 16.
The Oakland Raiders took down the Indianapolis Colts with the Black Hole in attendance to notch their first 12-win season in 16 years, an impressive feat that was paired with what could be an insurmountable loss.
Oakland, of course, suffered a significant injury at the quarterback position in their 33-25 win over the Colts, a story that is becoming as repeated as it is devastating.
In an effort to offer a story less negative, here is an in-depth look at some of the Raiders top performers according to Pro Football Focus.
Dec 24, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) gestures before the snap against the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at the Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Derek Carr stood tall prior to injury
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr bullied the Colts’ secondary with through three quarters of play, but an injury to his right leg forced him to leave the game before he could push all 11 defenders into the locker.
Colts outside linebacker Trent Cole registered Indianapolis’ only sack of the day with just over 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, an eight-yard loss that broke both Carr’s leg and the hearts of all Raiders fans in attendance. However, those in the stands rejoiced in only high fives and ear-to-ear grins before the injury.
Carr’s play was the catalyst of said high fives, as he completed 20 of 30 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns en route to earning Oakland’s top offensive grade at 82.5, per PFF.
The third-year signal caller was flawless both in a clean pocket and under pressure, as he completed 17 of 26 passes for 177 yards and all three of his touchdowns when well protected and three of four passes for 51 yards when under pressure. But it was the pass he didn’t throw under pressure that proved most costly.
Though he will now watch his team move forward from the sidelines for the next 6-8 weeks with a broken fibula, Carr finished the regular season on top of his game, and the Colts were just one of many defenses this season caught looking up.
Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders tackle Menelik Watson (71) celebrates as he runs off the field after a 19-16 win over the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Menelik Watson steps up in starting role
With veteran offensive lineman Austin Howard battling ankle injuries all season, Raiders’ 2013 second-round pick Menelik Watson earned the nod over Howard against the Colts on Saturday.
Watson took full advantage of the opportunity, as he played on 100 percent of the team’s snaps and graded out as the team’s fifth-best offensive player (75.2), per PFF. His strong performance likely solidified him as Oakland’s starter at right tackle for at least the duration of the 2016 season.
Dec 24, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Referees hold back Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) after a play against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at the Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Raiders’ edge-defenders remain strong
Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin have anchored Oakland’s defense all season, making their respective performances against the Colts just another day at the office.
Mack led all Raiders defenders, as he posted a single game grade of 86.2. Though he finished the day with just three tackles, he amassed eight hurries and one quarterback hit on just 33 pass-rush attempts, per PFF.
Irvin flourished within Mack’s shadow, as he again benefited from a lot of one-on-one matchups. He earned the team’s third-highest defensive grade (74.3) with one tackle and a team-high three quarterback hits.
With Carr limited to the sidelines, Mack and Irvin stand alone as the Raiders’ leaders both in the locker room and on the field. However, it helps that they are leading by example.
Dec 24, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Jalen Richard (30) is defended by Indianapolis Colts defensive end Henry Anderson (96) during a NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Colts 33-25. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Richard grades highly with limited touches
Raiders rookie running back Jalen Richard took a backseat to fellow rookie DeAndre Washington to watch his backfield counterpart have a career day, but Richard did turn heads the few times his hands were on the wheel.
Richard carried the ball six times for 66 yards and brought in three receptions for 13 yards and a touchdown. Due in large part to his efficiency, he earned the third-highest offensive grade on the team at 77.0, per PFF.
Raiders center Rodney Hudson spoke highly of both Washington and Richard after the game.
“They can play,” Hudson said, per Raiders.com. “I’ve seen it every day in practice and throughout camp. They’ve continued to get better. They work hard. They’re young guys but they get it, they word hard. They focus in, attention to detail. That’s what you ask from everybody, to get that effort, to try to do everything right.”
Doing everything right will keep Richard, or as Bay Area sportscaster Greg Papa calls him, The Pocket Rocket, soaring towards the stars.
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