Making history on Wall Street
This Sunday in Denver, Darren Waller will have the chance of putting his name right at the top of the franchise history book, something Waller still can't believe.
"To be even mentioned with his name is pretty crazy," said Darren Waller of approaching Tim Brown's single-season catches mark. "I remember watching him when I was really young, I was like 6 or 7 years old when he set that record, so to just even be in the conversation is amazing."
This season has seen Waller become a household name, proving his elite status as a tight end in this league and being selected to his first Pro Bowl. Now he's six catches away from Brown's mark.
"He's so humble," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "That jumps out at you whenever I get a chance to listen to his interviews or read an article on him. He is so humble for being such a tremendous player at this level.
"His work ethic, his preparation, how he goes about his week and his winning routine every week; he's just a real special football player. But a special leader, special person as well. I think everyone is getting a chance, I know his story is out there and a lot more people are getting to know Darren Waller. We couldn't be more proud of him as an organization or a coaching staff."
Locking down Lock
Drew Lock will definitely be looking forward to having another shot at the Silver and Black this Sunday.
Lock had one of his worst career performances against the Raiders defense in Week 10, throwing four interceptions in defeat.
"Drew's got to continue to use these times as a valuable experience going into next year, the different coverages and the different looks he's getting, to be able to come back and hopefully work on some consistency," President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway told DenverBroncos.com "I think he's showed that there's some bright spots there, and he's done a heck of a job in a lot of situations. But to be able to be good and be great in this league, you've got to play with consistency and eliminate the mistakes. That's what we're looking for out of Drew, is hopefully eliminate some of those mistakes and keep showing us the things that he can do."
Interim defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wants no parts of a Lock redemption story in Denver and plans on sticking with the game plan and mindset that got them the win nearly seven weeks ago.
"I think it starts with us, and the last game really doesn't mean anything at all right now," said Rod Marinelli. "So, we just got to keep focusing on us and especially with this group. I just want to keep building that culture of discipline and execution and expectations. And making sure we're not guessing, we're playing things exactly right, and I want them to play really fast. And we do those things, we can build off that."
Cle stays sidelined
Clelin Ferrell has been placed on injury reserve due to his shoulder injury and will not play in the season finale against the Broncos.
Ferrell injured his shoulder against the Colts in Allegiant Stadium a couple of weeks ago and has been sidelined since. He's shown great improvement this season despite being sidelined four games due to the COVID-19 list and his shoulder. Ferrell has totaled two forced fumbles, two sacks and wreaked havoc on opposing running backs this season. Coach Gruden's main concern is monitoring his young defensive end after the season he's had to deal with.
"I think I speak for most coaches in the NFL, there's been a lot of units that have been hit by the virus, hit by injuries, hit by inactivity and it's a bad combination," said Coach Gruden to the media Monday. "We like our young team, we like our young players. It did hurt us."
"I don't think Ferrell will play this week. I'd be surprised if he does."
Madd Maxx to the rescue
Of all the second-year players on the Raiders, it can be argued that Maxx Crosby has continued to prove his worth more than any of his draft classmates with perhaps the exception of the Pro Bowler Josh Jacobs.
Crosby has continued to be the dominant force of the Raiders defensive line, leading the team in sacks (6) for a second straight year going into the season finale against the Broncos. The fourth-round pick out of Eastern Michigan has been above and beyond what many thought he would be coming into the NFL and been a constant threat to opposing offenses. With the season coming to an end, Crosby will have big shoes to fill being one of the only defensive players to have played in all 16 games this season so far.
'You can't coach a better guy that's hungrier," said Marinelli. "Shows up every day hungry, the look in his eye and he's got a little more attention this year with some chips on him, which should happen, but there is no ceiling to Maxx. I just really believe he's going to get better and better, and it's important to finish correctly."
Development of the rookie wideouts
While rookie wideouts Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards have found ways to contribute, they still have yet to become highly targeted receivers in the Raiders offense.
Both have dealt with injuries and COVID-19 throughout the season and have yet to show the full arsenal of what they can add to the Raiders offense. Ruggs has caught 23 catches for 414 yards and two touchdowns, and Edwards has nine catches for 142 yards. While this season finale against the Broncos will give Ruggs and Edwards one more opportunity to show out this season, Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson is looking forward to coaching these guys up in the offseason.
"You can't replace experience. Both of them got experience this year," said Olson. "They had their share of injuries, so I think they've learned what an NFL season is like with the length of the season and the importance of being available on game day. What they really missed out on was the offseason work after they were drafted. We really look forward to getting our hands on them and spending an offseason getting better.
"They just need an offseason of coaching and being in this system and running the routes that we run here in this system."
Bent, but never broken offensive line
If you would've told me at the beginning of the season that the Raiders would still be a top-12 offense in the league despite only playing one game with their full starting offense line, I'd tell you to Just Say No.
The Silver and Black offense line has seen it all this year, but has been able to succeed and elevate the play of quarterback Derek Carr and Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs. Carr has enjoyed his highest quarterback rating since entering the league this season (102.2) and has thrown for over 3,700 yards with a 25:7 touchdown to interception ratio. Jacobs has ran in 10 touchdowns and is 24 yards away from being the first Raiders running back to have two consecutive 1,000 rushing yard seasons to begin their career.
Guard Gabe Jackson, along with center Rodney Hudson, are the only two offensive linemen to have started all 15 games this season. They both will also be integral pieces in the Raiders season finale against the Broncos.
"You always want to get a win no matter, playoffs or not going to the playoffs," said Gabe Jackson. "I feel like that will be the icing on the cake."
As the Raiders prepare for their Week 17 matchup against the Denver Broncos, view past matchups between the Silver and Black and their division rival.