As Raiders fans watched the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl, we can always reflect on the Pro Bowl season the Raiders’ dynamic duo of Trent Brown and Rodney Hudson had, but there are many players on the roster deserving of recognition.
While these two players are awarded a trip to the Pro Bowl, there were many “first team” players that showed out for the Raiders this year. This list would not be a very good list if it did not start off with the potential Offensive Rookie of the Year, Josh Jacobs. Jacobs shone from the first game and continued to shine every time he stepped onto the field. He led all NFL rookies with 1150 rushing yards but can also be remembered for the heart and desire to play he showed when he was ruled out with a shoulder injury. Jacobs wants nothing more than to play for the Raiders, and that amount of heart should not go unnoticed.
Richie Incognito also deserves recognition after taking a year off from football and coming back to have a career year protecting Derek Carr. Incognito was credited for allowing only one sack all season. While the Raiders’ offensive line was already solid, Incognito boosted the line not only with his skills but also with a newfound sense of leadership. Darren Waller found himself less than 100 receiving yards behind Travis Kelce’s numbers, with seven fewer receptions. With Waller’s yards per catch average sitting at 12.7, it is safe to assume Waller would have at least been close to Kelce’s total for the season. For a majority of the season, Waller was Carr’s go-to receiver, and Waller filled that role perfectly.
This is just a friendly reminder that Maxx Crosby is a rookie. In his rookie season, Crosby accounted for 10 (11 if you waive the phantom roughing-the-passer call on Sam Darnold) sacks, an impressive milestone even for a veteran. Crosby created fans from his appearances on Hard Knocks but made more than just a name for himself on the field. “Mad” Maxx Crosby is another player seen playing through injury and demonstrating the heart he plays with every snap.
Room to Improve
Coming into the season, the Raiders had a thin rotation at linebacker. As the season progressed, the rotation got thinner, but the one thing to remain constant was Tahir Whitehead. The Raiders’ veteran recorded a team-high 108 total tackles on the season, 34 more than Erik Harris. Benson Mayowa often went unrecognized due to Crosby’s success. Throughout the majority of the season, the two defensive ends battled to see who could record more sacks. While Crosby won (10-7), Mayowa provided another level of pressure to distract from Crosby. On top of that, managed to record more than a handful of sacks.
As the offseason rolls on, the Raiders must be excited with a majority of their core players moving forward. The assumed plan when Gruden came in was to be good for Las Vegas and ladies and gentlemen, they are now in Vegas.