By Sam McPherson
The 2014 Oakland Raiders are 0-4 as they go through their bye week right now, and the organization just fired its head coach on Monday night. Times are tough for the Silver & Black, and even with a change in the team's coaching staff, the rest of the season looks bleak for the franchise at the moment.
There isn't a lot of talent on this squad, and General Manager Reggie McKenzie is to blame for that circumstance; he fired Dennis Allen, but by the end of the season, the organization must relieve McKenzie of his duties as well and find a personnel guru to get the team's roster back to a workable level. Otherwise, no decent coach is going to take this position for 2015 and beyond.
That being said, here is a look at the "studs" and the "duds" on the 2014 Oakland Raiders—so far.
The offensive "star" of the season has to be wide receiver James Jones. Despite playing with a rookie quarterback and being supported by a poor running game, Jones still has managed to put up solid numbers: 21 receptions, 272 yards and two touchdowns. He's averaging 13 yards per reception when the QB corps as a whole is average less than nine yards per completion.
On the defensive side of the ball, it's going to be a tie—and not because there are so many "studs" to choose from in the group. It's because the primary guy is now hurt and out for the season. Tyvon Branch made 30 tackles and recorded a sack in three games before being lost for the season to injury. As the strong safety, he was often the last bastion out there, and Branch was playing pretty well under the duress.
Otherwise, free safety Charles Woodson still is the man. The old guy has 25 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery for the Silver & Black. His tackle totals have declined each week of the season, however, so he may be getting tired. Hopefully, the bye week will re-energize him for the next game against the San Diego Chargers.
On special teams, we will give a courtesy clap to placekicker Sebastian Janikowski. He's a perfect 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts this year, and he hasn't missed an extra point, either. Janikowski has been perfect through four games.
Offensively, this "award" has to go to running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He has just 26 total yards after four weeks, which makes it hard to justify his salary. Yes, he missed a game due to injury, but with just 11 carries for 12 yards on the ground—and four receptions for a mere 14 yards in the air—MJD has been a relative waste of roster space in 2014.
Defensive end Justin Tuck has been another disappointment for the team, registering just one sack in his first four games for the Silver & Black. He's averaged 10 sacks a season since 2007, but he's on pace for just four in 2014—that would tie a career-low for the former New York Giants standout.
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Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A's. His work can be found on a Examiner.com.
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