There’s no point sugar coating this aspect of the Oakland Raiders game. Let’s just be brutally honest: The Raiders return units have been anything but special.
How bad is it?
Oakland hasn’t housed a punt in a decade — Johnnie Lee Higgins 80-yard dash in 2008 was the last time it happened. Similar for kickoff returns. The Raiders haven’t scored on that since Jacoby Ford’s 101-yard sprint in 2011.
This past season, the Raiders trotted out legit return man Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs and still no dice. Primary punt returner Jalen Richard flopped in the role. It’s imperative Oakland bring back the exciting return element to their arsenal The eventual return man must end the terrible drought.
There’s hope yet.
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New special teams boss Rich Bisaccia has assembled and produced quality return units during his time with the Dallas Cowboys. And the cherry on top: Diminutive wide receiver Ryan Switzer (5-foot-8, 185 pounds) is an early earmark for the return gig. Either kickoff or punt or both. He housed a punt as a Cowboy last season. Switzer ran back an 88-yard weaving gallop against the Washington Redskins in November. In all, Switzer churned out 600 kickoff return and 256 punt return yards as a rookie last season.
Another Bisaccia man, Dwayne Harris, has a nose for the end zone with three career punt returns for a score and a kickoff return for a TD.
Richard, on the other hand, likely needs to win a special teams gig in order to cement his status on the Raiders 53-man roster. Indecision and the lack of making tacklers miss — something he did well in 2016 — scuttled his 2017 campaign. Compare his 2016 to 2017: 406 kickoff and 306 punt return yards to 90 and 155.
The Raiders don’t have time for mediocre to poor play from the special teams unit. It’s time to get some valuable return on the investment
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