Recently, Pro Football Focus released it’s list of the best special teams players in the NFL and it included three members of the Oakland Raiders. Johnny Holton, Brynden Trawick and John Feliciano were named as three of the best at what they do on special teams. And while all three are deserving of the credit they are getting, it’s well worth noting that they were far from the only special teams standouts.
The Oakland Raiders had the best average starting field position in the NFL with their starting point for offensive drives averaging out to the 31 yard line. Conversely, they were second in the league for their opponent’s starting field position. Raiders’ opponents averaged the start of their drives at the 25 yard line.
On top of that, the Raiders had 34 punts that were downed inside of the opponent’s 20 yard line. The Raiders only punted the ball 81 times which means of their 81 punts, 41% were downed inside of the 20 yard line. Now that stat often gets credited solely to the punter, but anyone who watches the NFL knows a good number of those are balls that gunners save from rolling into the end zone.
In a league where wins and losses can literally come down to inches, being one of the best in the league when it comes to field position is huge. And the majority of credit for starting field position of both the Raiders and their opponents goes to the special teams unit.
So while Trawick, Holton and Feliciano certainly deserve credit, so do guys like Andre Holmes, Taiwan Jones, Daren Bates, Marquette King, John Condo, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.
Whether it was as a kicker, a kick returner, a blocker or in kick coverage, all of these guys and many more made huge contributions on special teams for the Raiders this season.
It may not be as sexy as touchdowns or passing yards or turnovers, but starting field position is an incredibly important stat in the NFL. The Oakland Raiders took a huge step forward this season winning 12 games and a lot of the credit for that success falls on the shoulders of the special teams unit.