Wide Receiver Seth Roberts, Wide Receiver Amari Cooper, and Quarterback Derek Carr
When you think of the wide receivers for the Oakland Raiders, the first two names that likely come to mind are probably Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, right?
If that is indeed the case, it would be for good reason too, as the starting wideouts last season, Cooper and Crabtree were impressive in their first seasons in Silver and Black, recording a combined 1,992 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, en route to establishing themselves as one of the premier wide receiver tandems in the NFL.
As statistically impressive as Cooper and Crabtree's seasons were – and they were very impressive – the number I'd like to focus on instead is 1,995.
One thousand, nine hundred, and ninety five, is the amount of passing yards that quarterback Derek Carr threw for in 2015 to players who were *not *Cooper and Crabtree, and it's a number that shows the overall depth and potency of the team's wide receiving corps heading into 2016.
Granted, Carr got the entire offense involved in 2015, spreading the ball out to the tight ends, as well as the running backs, but unsurprisingly, the team's receiving corps accounted for a majority of his passing yards during his sophomore campaign.
"I think we all have certain types of qualities that benefit each other," said wide receiver Andre Holmes. "We all can do multiple things. All of us can block. All of us can run routes. All of us can do everything, so it's a good group."
Holmes, who caught 14 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns last season after leading the team in receiving yards in 2014, is a perfect example of the depth that is now on the Raiders roster, and although he and wide receiver Seth Roberts don't often find themselves in the headlines, they play an integral role in the makeup of what the Raiders hope will be one the more dynamic receiving corps in the AFC.
Each of the core wideouts heading into 2016 (Crabtree, Cooper, Roberts and Holmes) plays a different role, and possesses a unique skillset compared to the other receivers in the room.
Cooper is the quiet, budding superstar, Crabtree the veteran wideout with 432 receptions and a Super Bowl appearance to his name, and Holmes, standing at 6'4", is the tall, rangy red zone threat.
"We're all different," said Roberts. "I feel like every guy has a strength that one person doesn't have, but we feed off of each other. It's kind of like if I were to see 'Crab' do something, or if I was to see 'Coop' do something, it's like, alright 10 let's go. It's motivation, and even if things aren't going right; there have been a couple of times when Coop has looked at me, and said, 'let's go,' and you need that, and vice versa. I do the same thing to him. I feel like we feed off each other. We're going to protect each other, and we're going to hold it down."
Carr's third season as a Raider will be different than his previous two in a variety of ways, but most notably, for the first time in his short career, he'll not only have the vast majority of his offensive weapons back, but he'll also be dealing with the same playbook as the year previous.
"This is [Carr's] first time with the same playbook the next season, so we're able to kind of be more one-on-one with him, as a far as what he wants and what we want, as far as different routes, and passes, and things like that," Holmes explained. "The continuity of having the same pieces, and the same offense is huge."
"He's the point guard on the football field," added Roberts. "He's our leader, so we have to feed off him, and I'm with him 100 percent. If he throws that ball across the middle, I'm going to get it."
In Bill Musgrave's first season as offensive coordinator, the Raiders offensive metrics improved across the board, as the Silver and Black began to boast one of the more impressive young offensive attacks in the NFL.
Now as the team prepares to embark on the 2016 season, the pieces are in place to be an even more potent offensive unit, and while expectations surrounding the team are likely higher than they have been in over a decade, they're expectations that are being embraced.
"Like I keep saying, it's in the sky what can happen, man," said Roberts. "People have their say so of this and that, but we control what we can control. The sky isn't the limit. We can go past the sky. We're trying to just make it happen."