Why the Las Vegas Raiders are the most underrated franchise in the NFL today

Why the Las Vegas Raiders are the most underrated franchise in the NFL today

While the 2021-2022 season was not what any Raider fan saw coming—or wanted to see coming, the Raiders were an undeniable threat towards the end of the season, winning four straight games to make the playoffs. Still, nobody wants to give the Raiders the respect they deserve.

The season may not have ended the way fans wished, but at the end of the day, the Raiders made the playoffs under conditions other teams in the NFL couldn’t imagine. From losing a coach to losing star players, a playoff berth at all was a welcomed surprise. Now that the season is over, the Raiders can look forward to the 2022-2023 season. And with the way its team is set up now, Las Vegas shouldn’t expect anything less than the outcome from this season.

First off, a player that never gets his fair share of praise, Derek Carr. Carr is a franchise quarterback; the only problem is that not enough people see him that way. During these past few seasons, he is what kept the team together. 

His last two seasons have been his best so far, as he threw for 8,157 yards, 48 touchdowns, and only 17 interceptions. Carr’s stats jumped, as he proved to be one of the most accurate QBs in the NFL. For the most part, his completion percentage has hovered around the high 60’s and low 70’s. His quarterback rating jumped up from 46.5 to 71.0 as well. 

Arguably, Carr’s most admirable trait as a quarterback is his undying loyalty to his team. Carr has said time and time again that he can’t see himself playing for any other team in the NFL other than the Raiders.

Another strong point in the Raider offense is its depth in the backfield. Josh Jacobs leads the charge in the running game. As of late, his injuries have gotten the best of him. After every three plays or so, Jacobs can be seen running to the bench to see the medical staff. He has struggled with his calf, his ribs, and even turf toe at times. 

Behind him at second string is a late addition to the team in Kenyan Drake. Coming from the Dolphins, he was the go-to back last season and did his job for the team by averaging 9.7 yards per carry. Behind Drake is the long-time Raider Jalen Richard, who is a very solid back when Drake or Jacobs isn’t available.

The receiving game for the Raiders took a massive blow this season with the loss of Henry Ruggs Ⅲ, but there was still significant talent in the receiver position. Veteran receivers Zay Jones and Desean Jackson were the latest additions, while the main targets on the field include young stars like Hunter Renfrow from Clemson and Bryan Edwards straight from high school.

Obviously, the main threat on offense will remain Darren Waller—one of the best tight ends in the league. Sadly, the offensive line has been in a slight decline ever since Rodney Hudson left. Kolton Miller has taken over as head of the o-line, mainly because Richie Incognito has been injured for the entire season. Alex Leatherwood, a recent addition, has been underwhelming so far, with a lot of talk of him being a bust. However, it’s a little too early to assume anything. The rest of the offensive line isn’t worth mentioning, although it’s possible new rookies will be welcomed to the team soon with the NFL Draft growing closer.

The defense is potentially the most promising aspect of the team. Led by defensive end “Mad” Maxx Crosby, defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins, and cornerback Casey Hayward Jr., the Raiders’ defense is young and talented. During multiple games this season, the defense is what won the game, and in the future, I could see the silver and black jerseys be as feared as they once were during the 1970s.

Usually, Vegas’ special teams aren’t worth mentioning. Since four wins this season are thanks to Daniel Carlson, though, it’s probably worth bringing up the up-and-coming placekicker. Carlson had a 93% field goal percentage, going 40/43. Punter AJ Cole is also worth talking about, punting a long of 71 yards, and in total, 3202 yards.

Everything is there for the Raiders’ success next season, so in the end, it’s all dependent on the new coach, Josh McDaniels. McDaniels’ experience as a coach has been as an offensive coordinator for the majority of his career, and with the change, next season could be hit or miss. Nevertheless, the Raiders did make the playoffs under the coaching of an interim coach, so who knows, maybe the Raiders are finally ready to take over the AFC West.