Quarter Turn: Raiders Remain Optimistic For Second Half Of Season

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We've come to the end of the first half of action in 2017, and before we kick off the second portion of the year; here's a look at what Raiders.com writers Eddie Paskal and Kyle Martin have to say about the second quarter of gameplay.

Second Quarter MVP:

EP:I'm going to have go with Michael Crabtree. Over the past four games, "King Crab" has hauled in 20 catches for 241 yards and three touchdowns, and has been about as consistent of a figure as you could ask for on the Raiders offense. While the Silver and Black's offense has hard a time finding sustained success over the past month or so, Crabtree has quietly gone about his work, and halfway through the season, he's on pace to set a personal best in receiving touchdowns. Look, I know that with the team currently owning a 3-5 record, it might be a little hard to crown somebody the team "MVP," but there have been positive plays, and reasons for optimism up and down the roster. Crabtree might not talk a lot, but he's been a positive influence for the 2017 Raiders, and his play over the past month deserves some shine.

KM:I'm going to have to agree with Eddie on this one. Since Michael Crabtree arrived in Oakland in 2015, he's totaled 2,336 receiving yards, 23 touchdowns, and 207 receptions. No. 15 has been consistent since day one, and it's no secret he's quarterback Derek Carr's favorite receiver to go to in the clutch. In 2017, the former Texas Tech Red Raider is nearly halfway to his total number of receiving yards from a year ago (1,003), and he's just two touchdowns shy of matching his final touchdown line from 2016 (8). As Eddie pointed out, the Silver and Black have endured a bit of a lull offensively in the second quarter of the season, but Crabtree has continued to produce. If there's anyone who has earned the title of "Second Quarter MVP," it's him.

Best Play Of The Second Quarter:

EP:I don't think there's going to be a lot of debate on this one; I'm rolling with Michael Crabtree's (second) game-winning touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only did No. 15's touchdown give the Raiders a very-much-needed win over a division foe, the way that final, few moments of the game transpired made the Thursday Night tilt an instant classic. Let's pretend for a few seconds that Crabtree DIDN'T make that catch. Not only are the Raiders looking at a heartbreaking loss, they're looking at a loss to a division rival as well. One could make the argument that Crabtree's game winner has been the Raiders play of the year so far, so it's certainly, for me, the best play of the second quarter.

KM:I think we can all agree that the play of the second quarter was the game-winning touchdown to Crabtree against the Kansas City Chiefs, but I'm going to choose a different play from that very same game. Through the first few six weeks of the season, wide receiver Amari Cooper wasn't putting up the numbers everyone was accustomed to seeing, but by scoring the first touchdown of the game against the Chiefs, No. 89 reminded everyone on primetime television who he is, and what he's capable of doing. With running back Marshawn Lynch lined up in the backfield, Carr snapped the ball and handed the it off to No. 24, but prior to running through the line turned around and pitched the pigskin back to his quarterback. From there, No. 4 did the only thing he could, let Cooper go to work. With the former University of Alabama wide out streaking down the sideline, Carr delivered a 38-yard bomb to Cooper, who brushed his defender off upon the catch and dove for the pylon. By the end of the game, the third-year wide receiver had totaled 210 yards, 11 receptions, and two touchdowns.

One Surprising Thing About The Second Quarter:

EP:Well, like most of you, I didn't expect the Silver and Black to be sitting at 3-5 halfway through 2017, but as Head Coach Jack Del Rio likes to say; that's what the team has earned up to this point. While the Raiders record overall has been cause for surprise, I think in general, I've been kind of surprised how inconsistent the team has been. You look at a game like the one against the Chiefs, and offensively, the Raiders looked like the group we expected to see in 2017; explosive, dynamic, and with a bevy of playmakers at its disposal. Then, in other games – last week in Buffalo comes to mind – the unit looks out of sorts, and has a hard time moving up and down the field. The inconsistencies haven't just been offensively either; while the defense has certainly had its strong moments, it too hasn't been able to consistently stack together positive outings. The talent is there, and both sides of the ball have shown what they're capable of, now they just need to do it on a regular basis.

KM: Again, I have to side with Eddie on this one. The Raiders came out of the offseason as one of the popular picks to make a run in the postseason, but at 3-5 it remains to be seen if the team will reach that goal. Derek Carr and Co., came out of the gates hot, beating a talented Tennessee Titans team on the road in Week 1, and put on an offensive clinic in Week 2 at home, as they tallied 45 points against the New York Jets. General Manager Reggie McKenzie made some moves in the offseason to bolster the offense even more, with the acquisitions of Lynch, tight end Jared Cook, and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Going forward, I have faith they'll figure things out. This group has far too many playmakers not to get rolling.

Reason To Be Optimistic Going Forward:

EP:Like I mentioned above; the talent is there for the Raiders, on both sides of the football. This offense is stacked with playmakers out wide, and in the backfield, and the offensive line is quietly having another very strong season too. Defensively, any group that has Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin on it is going to present its fair share of problems for the opposing offense, and with the addition of NaVorro Bowman, the defense has shown that they're a group on the upswing at this point in the season. But to get back to my original point, there's too much talent on this squad, up and down the roster, for them to be two games under .500. Now, have the Raiders made things a little tighter for themselves than they would have liked? Sure, but there's no reason that things can't turn around in a hurry for the Silver and Black. It'll have to start this weekend in Miami though.

A look at the best images from the Raiders Week 8 matchup against the Buffalo Bills.

KM:When Jack Del Rio was named the Raiders Head Coach in 2015, he came in with the mindset he was going restore the team to its winning ways. One of the things he's preached since that day is playing with physicality, and the offensive line is certainly capable of doing that. McKenzie has built a team that's the embodiment of physicality, and if there's one thing Del Rio loves, it's grit. With a young team, and a 25-year-old quarterback at the helm in 2016, the Hayward, Calif., native helped the Raiders return to the postseason for the first time in 14 years. I believe in Del Rio and his plan, and he's the main reason I'm optimistic this group of men can do an about-face.

One Word To Describe The Second Quarter:

EP:Challenging.

The Raiders went 1-3 in the second quarter, but like I said, we're only halfway home. Don't lose hope, Raider Nation.

KM:Unexpected.

There were times when the Raiders showed their true colors, and the resiliency they've put on display in the past, but there were also times when they looked like an entirely different team. There's still time left on the clock, and it's a long season; I believe the problems will be remedied.

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