The way the Las Vegas Raiders lost to the Miami Dolphins on Saturday was shocking, but the play of Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller came as no surprise.
By now, everyone should be used to the stellar weekly performances by the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket, but in case you're not, let me remind you why the Raiders' tight end is one of the best in the business. After Week 16, Waller has 1,079 receiving yards, eight receiving touchdowns, and 98 receptions. Against the Dolphins, the 28-year-old playmaker posted 112 receiving yards and his five receptions, which helped him rewrite the franchise's record books.
Todd Christensen is a Raiders legend and has held onto the record for most receptions by a tight end in team history for just over 30 years, but Waller is now the owner of that record. In addition, Waller joined Christensen as the only two tight ends in franchise history to finish multiple seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards. With one game to go, Waller can tie Tim Brown's all-time record with eight catches next week against the Denver Broncos. The individual accolades are all well and good, and certainly worthy of praise, but the team's success is what comes first in Waller's mind.
"It's definitely cool, it means a lot to break a record — I don't think I've ever done anything like that before — I appreciate everything that goes into that," Waller said following the game. "The quarterback throwing it, the time he needs to throw it from the offensive line. The receivers running their routes and clearing out areas for me to make a play. So, there's a lot of people that goes into that."
Waller's performance against a talented Dolphins defense was exceptional, going up for contested catches, creating separation with his speed, and doing all he could to put his team in a position to win. His talent and athleticism make him great, but it's his consistency that makes him special, and his head coach knows it.
"He's a great player and he's played such a major role in so many different positions," Coach Jon Gruden told reporters after the game, "he's one of the best players I've ever seen play football.
Now that Waller has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and his highlights are occurring more frequently on national television, he's gaining recognition as one of the best at his position.
Oozing with potential, by the time his career is over, Waller will have rewritten several records with the Raiders.
View photos from the Raiders' Week 16 matchup against the Miami Dolphins at Allegiant Stadium on Saturday night football.