The first year of the Jack Del Rio-era officially concluded Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium, as the Oakland Raiders fell to the Kansas City Chiefs 23-17.
As a result, the Raiders finish the season 7-9, and while they are not postseason eligible, their record does show a four-win improvement compared to the 2014 season.
The players cleaned out their lockers and said goodbye Monday afternoon, but before we officially move our attention to the offseason, let's see what we can learn from Sunday's loss to the Chiefs.
Clive Walford's Emergence Continues
The Raiders selected Clive Walford in the third round (No. 68 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft to be a duel-threat tight end, and that's precisely the role he's filled – especially throughout the second half of the regular season.
At 6'4" and 250 pounds, the rookie tight end boasts prototypical size to excel in the blocking game, and he has flashed that skill, as well as his ability to be a vertical threat, as the season has worn on.
Sunday's game was just the latest evidence of that, as he hauled in all four passes thrown his way, including a 19-yard strike on third down that later resulted in a Raiders field goal.
Walford has come on and increased his production as the season has progressed, and heading into 2016 and beyond he'll be an intriguing player to keep an eye on.
The Offensive Line Had A Rough Day At The Office
Early in the season, an argument could be made that the Raiders offensive line was the most consistent unit on the team, as they kept quarterback Derek Carr clean and spearheaded the Silver and Black's running game.
However, as the season went on, and injuries mounted, the big men up front struggled – allowing six sacks Sunday afternoon to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Additionally, the Raiders had a hard time sparking the run game, only mustering 48 yards on the ground in their loss to the Chiefs.
"It's always a combination, it's not one person, it's not one group," said Head Coach Jack Del Rio postgame. "But obviously as the head coach it's important that I get a handle on exactly where it began to kind of break down. I think tonight was the most we've had all year, if I'm not mistaken. It felt like it."
Admittedly, Sunday's manifestation of the offensive line was not what the team anticipated it looking like at the beginning of the season, but even so, the players always stress the importance of the next-man-up philosophy, and against the Chiefs, the unit struggled.
David Amerson Just Keeps Making Plays
Has there been a better in-season acquisition in the NFL this year than cornerback David Amerson?
If so, you'd be hard pressed to fine one as the North Carolina State-product has been stellar since arriving in Oakland Week 3.
In his 14 games in Silver and Black, Amerson enjoyed career numbers, notching 25 passes defensed and four interceptions in 2015.
His most recent interception occurred Sunday against the Chiefs, as he picked off Alex Smith and returned it to the end zone for his second career pick-six.
Amerson has been outstanding since arriving in Oakland, and after a rather unceremonious departure from the Washington Redskins, he seems to have found a home with the Silver and Black.
"I love playing here," Amerson said. "I love the coaches. They gave me a second chance and that's something I'll never forget. I hope this will be a home for a long time."
Charles Woodson's Career Officially Came To An End
After 18 years and 254 games, Charles Woodson's Hall-of-Fame-career officially came to a close Sunday in Kansas City.
"It didn't end like you wanted it to end, but the great thing about the team is they fought all the way to the end," Woodson said. "We were not able to come out with the win, but that is how it goes sometimes."
Although the Silver and Black did come up short in their regular season finale, Woodson performed admirably his last time strapping on the pads, finishing the game with seven total tackles and nearly getting his hands on an interception as well.
Eighteen years after his journey in the NFL began, his decorated career is finally over, but Woodson is part of a small group of players who left the game a better place than when he entered the league.
"I want people to say that I left it all out on the field, nothing more and nothing less," Woodson explained. "I gave the game everything I had. Every Sunday that I went out and played the game I gave it 100 percent effort. That is all you can ask for anybody. I feel like I played at the top of my game for 18 years. I am very, very proud of that."
The Raiders Are Getting Closer To Playoff Contention
No, the Raiders didn't meet all the goals they set out before the season – Head Coach Jack Del Rio said as much during his final press conference, however; the team is better than they were just a year ago.
Not only do they have four more wins than they did in 2014, the team now has a solid nucleus and identity for the first time in recent memory.
"It was a good beginning," Head Coach Del Rio said Monday of the 2015 campaign. "Definitely a year we can build upon. Didn't quite meet the goals that I had established, but I think it was productive on many fronts and definitely a year we feel we can build upon going forward."
Head Coach Del Rio set out to the change the culture in Oakland, and that's precisely what he's done; the Raiders are now a team on the rise, and a team to be taken seriously, and while the sting of missing the postseason still lingers, for the first time in a while, the team can enter the offseason with a sense of optimism.