Editor's Note: This is the first of four questions answered by Raiders Insider Paul Gutierrez. Each new question, or down, will be posted as gametime approaches.
A new era begins in Silver and Blackdom as the Raiders begin an exhibition season without Al Davis for the first time since the Kennedy Administration. General manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen are the new faces of the franchise, with Mark Davis' blessing, of course, and the product they've been assembling since January is on full public display for the first time today at 5 PT, against the Dallas Cowboys. The game will be televised live on ESPN and locally on KPIX Channel 5. Four questions, then, in the form of downs, facing fans and the Raiders heading into the exhibition opener at the ColiseumFirst downHow long will the starters play?
Generally, teams' starters get only a series or two in an exhibition opener. And with injuries starting to pile up in Napa, that would seem to be the smart choice here, right? Well, it is a new era, complete with new offensive and defensive sensibilities so you might see some extended snaps by the first-stringers. In any event, rookie coach Dennis Allen is not saying what his starters' respective work loads will be. Not to the media and not, he says, to the players themselves. "I want our players focused in on going out and playing and not how many reps they're going to get," Allen said. "I won't tell them until they've played the game, and I tell them they're coming out. Because there's only one way to play the game, and that's getting your mind right, and go out and compete. I think a lot of times when you tell them, 'Hey, you're going to play one quarter, you're going to play 10 snaps' there's a little bit of a mental letdown and I don't want that."
Khalil Mack had 15 sacks in 2015. The Raiders edge rusher had four fewer a year later but, still had his best season yet.
As head coach Jack Del Rio likes to say, pass rushers aren’t judged on sacks alone.
That number was still high at 11, but Mack was dominant against the run. He created turnovers and consistently pressured the quarterback despite a steady dose of chip blocks and double teams. A third man was occasionally assigned, as one was late against Carolina.
Mack fought through a triple team and strip sacked Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. He recovered his own fumble and secured a Raiders victory. Then he did something similar the following week against Buffalo.
It was that type of clutch performance, in addition to all the standard metrics, that made Mack the NFL’s most dominant defensive player.
The Pro Football Writers of America agrees. The association named him the NFL’s defensive player of the year for the 2016 season by vote of their membership.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was named the PWFA’s MVP and offensive player of the year.
Mack’s award could be a preview of a big moment early next month. The NFL will honor its best at awards banquet the evening prior to the Super Bowl, and Mack could be named defensive player of the year there.
That would honor a player with excellent numbers this season. Mack had 73 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, four passes defensed and an interception he returned for a touchdown. He also had 16 tackles for loss (one off the NFL lead) and had 96 total quarterback pressures.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has 247,000 Twitter followers and, given his popularity in the Bay Area, it’s assumed a significant portion stems from this region.
Carr put that megaphone to good use.
Oakland Police sent out an Amber Alert on Saturday hoping to find a young boy gone missing, and Carr retweeted that call for public assistance.
The boy was quickly found after a citizen replied on Twitter and provided information that led to the rescue.
That led an Oakland police officer to credit Carr for helping find the boy.
Carr responded to the news on social media, happy police were able to find a missing child.