In a season filled with extremes one unit for the Raiders was surprisingly steady if at times unspectacular, the Special Teams. While the unit was far from the most outstanding league-wide, under Brad Seely’s direction there was rarely the concern that they would cost the team a game.
Considering the early loss of long time kicker Sebastian Janikowski, the kicking unit was able to mostly avoid costly mistakes and even give the offense some short fields was a massive boon in an otherwise disappointing season. Furthermore, with the addition of Cordarrelle Patterson the return team certainly gave coverage teams quite the scare, enough that teams eventually elected not to punt to Patterson. While certainly not perfect, Special Teams was far from a weakness in 2017.
When the Raiders broke training camp there had already been rumors that Janikowski was on the mend. Tavecchio, to his credit, had stayed ready over the last few seasons. The Raiders gave him his opportunity to shine when Janikowski went on to IR. Over the balance of the season, Tavecchio only attempted 21 Field Goals, among the fewest in the league, but only missed five in addition to just one very costly missed extra point. While not sterling Tavecchio was certainly not a disaster this season and fared quite well on kickoffs with an even 75% finishing as touchbacks. He may not be back with the Silver and Black this season, but he will have a job in the NFL next season.
Marquette King finally broke into the elite conversation. Overall, this was a steady year for him. He finished 6th in average yards per punt, 3rd in net total, and 11th in average return yards. He did not exhibit the same kind of control he has in prior years . King endured some injury issues this season and should bounce back.
Originally signed to be a gadget player on offense, Patterson shines on special teams. He only added to his resume this season. King finished third in net total return yards this season due to Patterson’s speed and sure tackling. As a returner, Patterson fielding few kicks. Meanwhile, he enjoyed the highest average return yardage of any player with 15 or more returns. In his only 19 return attempts, he finished with over 500 yards. If his production can increase another notch , he’s going to the Pro Bowl.
This was supposed to be the season that Richard took another step in all facets of his game. However, that simply was not the case. He struggled to get any separation on punt returns. As a result, the Raiders finished 30th in averages punt return yardage and 31st in total punt return yardage. With a long of only 19 yards, the Raiders desperately need to find a replacement punt returner.