Breaking down the Raiders dropped passes problem this season


HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) extends to make a reception as Houston Texans Cornerback Johnathan Joseph (24) defends during the NFL AFC Wild Card game between the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans on January 7, 2017, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)

The Oakland Raiders receiving corps left a lot of passes on the field in 2016.  

Many were cases of mistiming, or inaccurate throws but most were catchable and in the past few days head coach Jack Del Rio has publicly let his players know that work has to be done to fix it.  They say the first step in identifying that you have a problem is admitting it.  There is no doubt that the Oakland Raiders had an issue with dropped passes in 2016.

Statistically the Oakland Raiders receivers dropped 4.9% of the passes thrown their way in 2016.  As a team, only the New York Jets finished worse in that category.  The Raiders’ 4.9% tied them for second place in the category alongside the 49ers and Chiefs.  

In the case of overall drops by a team, the Oakland Raiders finished second in the league with 29 dropped passes.  The Jets finished just ahead of the Raiders with 30 drops and the Lions were one drop behind the Raiders with 28 dropped passes.

As many Raider fans have heard the biggest contributor to the 29 drops was Michael Crabtree.  The veteran dropped 9 passes and many of them came at crucial times like third down situations.  Crabtree added one more drop, for good measure in the playoffs against the Texans.  As a reference point, wide receiver Brandon Marshall finished second in the league with 8 drops.

The rest of the Raiders dropsies list reads as follows:

  • Seth Roberts was second with 5 drops
  • Clive Walford & Jalen Richard finished with 4 drops
  • Amari Cooper finished with 3 drops
  • Mychal Rivera had 2 drops
  • Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington had 1 drop each.

Amari Cooper reduced his rookie total of 10 drops to just 3 in 2016.  Michael Crabtree had 8 drops in 2015 which gives him the team lead (2015-2016) with 17 drops in 32 games.  Wide receiver Andre Holmes had 3 drops in 2015 but he made the most of his chances by dropping zero passes in 2016.

The dropsies came to a head when the Raiders played the Chiefs for the second time in 2016.  Pro Football Focus tabbed the Raiders with four dropped passes, though cases could be made for more.  

In Crabtree’s defense he was the “go to” receiver for Oakland in 2016.  He led the team with 56 catches that resulted in first downs (9th in the NFL), and he led Oakland with 8 touchdown receptions.  Moreover, Crabtree dislocated one of his ring fingers twice during the course of the season and that may have contributed to his drops.

Still, fans got frustrated with Raiders receivers as the season wore on.  In the wildcard playoffs the team was forced to start rookie Connor Cook in the place of an injured Derek Carr and an impotent Matt McGloin.  The receivers did Cook no favors by dropping six of his 45 passes.  Although the Raiders fell behind the Texans early, they still had a chance to win and several of the drops came at critical moments that contributed to the Raiders ultimate 27-14 demise.  Pro Football Focus tabbed the Raiders with six dropped passes, though I counted 10 drops.  

Tallying drops can often be based on the eye of the beholder.

Fans can congratulate both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree on becoming the first Raiders receiving duo since Tim Brown and Jerry Rice to go over 1,000 each in the same season.  In franchise history only the combo of Warren Wells and Fred Biletnikoff (1968) has matched that feat.  Moreover, the combo of Coop and Crab has been together for 32 regular season games and they have combined for 329 receptions, 4,148 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Despite their obvious success, Jack Del Rio is impressed but not satisfied.  Since the loss to Houston on January 7 he has stated publicly several times that the receivers will be working on their hands this offseason.  Del Rio did not name names, he did not point out that Crabtree has led the way and is the number one offender the past two seasons.  He knows that the 2017 season will be tougher for the Raiders because Oakland will face five teams that had double-digit winning seasons in 2016 (Chiefs twice, Dallas, Patriots, Dolphins and Giants).  For the Raiders to be successful in those games and go head to head with the league’s best teams they have to both address and fix this problem.

Or 12 wins might end up being only 8-9 in 2017.  Or maybe worse.

Note: The source I used for the Raiders drops was  I did notice on that Crabtree is credited with 13 drops. Personally, I watched every game this season and I counted 14 drops.

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Raider Mike

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