Oakland Raiders End of Season Evaluation: Running Backs

The 2016 season was a wild one for the Oakland Raiders. They finally evolved from punchline to promising, and the future looks bright for the Silver and Black. However, now that the season is over, it’s time to reflect on the season that was. The Last Word on Pro Football Raiders department will be breaking down each position group over the next couple of weeks. Today, the topic of conversation is the running backs.

Oakland Raiders End of Season Evaluation: Running Backs

Latavius Murray

Latavius Murray was the featured back in a very crowded Oakland Raider backfield last season. He led the team in carries, yards, and touchdowns. Impressively, Murray had 12 rushing touchdowns last season, which is good enough for fifth in the league. Murray is a good, not great running back that’s set to become a free agent this off-season. If the Raiders can get him for a good price, they should attempt to retain his services, if not, it’s no big loss.

DeAndre Washington

DeAndre Washington was one of two rookie running backs for the Raiders this off-season. Washington only ran the ball 87 times, but he rushed for 467 yards. That’s 5.4 yards per carry. It took him a while to get started, but late in the season, he was explosive. Against the Indianapolis Colts, Washington exploded, rushing for 99 yards and two touchdowns. The next week, he only had seven carries against the Denver Broncos, but he managed to get 43 yards.

Jalen Richard

Jalen Richard was the feel-good story of the season for the Oakland Raiders. An undrafted rookie, Richard was a long-shot to even make the roster, let alone see playing time. But that’s exactly what he did, and when he was on the field, he made some huge plays. His very first carry in the NFL was a 75 yard touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. He received four fewer carries than Washington, but he actually rushed for 24 more yards.

Not only was Richard good as a rusher, he proved to be a decent receiver too, catching 29 passes for 194 yardds and two touchdowns. For an undrafted rookie to account for 685 yards and three touchdowns is pretty spectacular. With Murray likely leaving in free agency, Richard should see an increased workload in 2017.

Taiwan Jones

Taiwan Jones didn’t contribute as much on offense as he had in the past. He only had one rush, and it was for a loss of eight yards. As a receiver, he had only four catches for 43 yards. Jones did have a decent season as a returner, taking eight kickoffs for 112 yards over the season. Taiwan Jones is more of a special teams contributor, and frankly, the Raiders might want to look into getting rid of him this off-season.

Jamize Olawale

Jamize Olawale came into replace Marcel Reece this season, and he did a phenomenal job. He was accountable for 274 yards and three touchdowns. He laid some big blocks, fought for some tough yards on the ground, and was surprisingly good as a receiver. He’s a match-up nightmare and should stay with the Raiders for the foreseeable future.

It’s likely that the success of the Raider rushers is a product of the phenomenal offensive line, but that shouldn’t be held against them. The Raider rushers combined for 1,785 rushing yards, 843 receiving yards, and 20 total touchdowns, and that’s pretty impressive. The group gets a solid B rating.