Raiders' Mack named 2016 AP Defensive Player of the Year

Raiders' Mack named 2016 AP Defensive Player of the Year

Khalil Mack was excellent against the run and pass this season. The Raiders edge rusher generated more heat than any other in 2016, creating quarterback pressure on 95 occasions.

Mack made quarterbacks flinch despite significant attention, and was a true force on defense.

Those efforts were rewarded on Saturday night, when he was named the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.

Mack is the first Raider to win the award since Lester Hayes in 1980. 

The honor supported two other awards, and confirms he’s a national superstar worthy of the No. 5 overall draft pick. 

Mack was not in Houston at the NFL Honors awards show, to accept the award. That fits Mack’s persona, who prefers to play well without recognition.

He demands attention on the field, with an astonishing stat line.

Mack finished the 2016 season with 73 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception. He had 16 tackles for a loss, one off the NFL lead. According to the analytics website Pro Football Focus, Mack led all edge rushers with 96 total quarterback pressures.

His best game came against Tampa Bay, when he had two sacks, two quarterback hits and seven quarterback pressures.

Mack received the most attention for a victory over Carolina, where he did almost everything. He returned an interception for a touchdown late in the first half, and strip sacked Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and recovered his own forced fumble to seal that game. Then he did something similar the next week against Buffalo, affirming he ranked among the league’s most disruptive.

Mack was a true team leader in 2016, vital factor in the team’s 12-4 record. The Raiders will sign him to a contract extension when the time is right, knowing full well that he makes their defense better.

He wasn't available for comment, but posted a response on Instagram. 

Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 17-16 loss to the Chargers

Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 17-16 loss to the Chargers

OAKLAND – Here are three things you need to know from the Raiders’ 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6 on Sunday:

Raiders season already circling drain: The Oakland Raiders are the AFC West’s worst. They’re in last place after six games.

Wrap your head around that.

A team expected to contend for an AFC title is floundering at 2-4, unable to stop what could be a season-defining skid.

They’ve lost four straight, including the last two at home, with the first-place Kansas City Chiefs coming to town Thursday night. They’ve lost as many games in a month as they dropped all last season.

The margin for error might be nil, or darn close to it. Every game is up in the air now, and the Raiders must act quickly or get left in the dust.

“There’s pressure every game. We work in a pressure business,” cornerback David Amerson said. “It’s now or never, if we’re being completely honest. With how tough our division is, and how tough our remaining schedule is, we have to turn it on, man.”

Frustration mounting on offense: The Raiders scored 70 points in the regular season’s first two weeks. They’ve tallied 53 in the last four. That’s right. The vaunted Raiders attack is averaging 13.1 points per game during a disastrous losing streak that has their season on life support.

They aren’t explosive passing downfield. They can’t run consistently. They’ve struggled to sustain drives, stay on schedule and execute well on third down.

You name it, it’s gone wrong.

That’s unexpected from an offensive seemingly loaded at the skill positions and on the offensive line. That was true before Jared Cook, Cordarrelle Patterson and Marshawn Lynch were acquired. This unit was supposed to be elite. It’s the opposite under first-year play caller Todd Downing.

It must be more efficient for the Raiders to be competitive, and it’s something the Raiders continue working on even as losses pile high.

Derek Carr says its little details. Donald Penn says the Raiders are close to things going right. Close doesn’t cut it. They know that. That’s why the temperature’s rising on offense, and frustration’s starting to set in.

“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us in this world; not even us,” tight end Jared Cook said. “We have to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and find a way to fix this thing.”

Performing under pressure a 2016 trait: There’s so much continuity from last year’s roster to this one that it’s logical to assume it should share some signature traits.

Coming through in the clutch defined last year’s squad, with so many fourth-quarter comebacks and timely takeaways to win games. This year’s Raiders haven’t been able to do that. Not at all.

The Raiders had 30 takeaways last season. The defense has just three in six games, with two more coming on special teams. The offense hasn’t been able to close games. They had a chance up two with six minutes left, and went three and out.

They had a chance to stop the Chargers early on the game-deciding drive, but never put up much resistance.

Last year’s Raiders won close games, with nine victories by seven points or less. This year’s Raiders have lost the two close games they’ve played.

“This was a typical NFL game,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “They’re usually close. Comes down to the end. Which team makes plays? We had our chances. You get your chances and you have to live with the results. Didn’t make enough plays today.”

What went wrong on Raiders' crucial missed extra point vs Chargers

What went wrong on Raiders' crucial missed extra point vs Chargers

OAKLAND – Extra points aren’t supposed to be hard. Even from a greater distance now -- the NFL backed them up a few years back -- they’re still converted roughly 94 percent of the time.

They’re an afterthought for most, an automatic tally while fans are still celebrating a touchdown.

That was the case Sunday afternoon. Oakland Coliseum roared following a Cordarrelle Patterson 47-yard touchdown run that gave the Raiders a fourth quarter lead.

Few were thinking about the next step in this point swing, but it had massive implications in a 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Raiders should’ve gone up by three points. They didn’t. Giorgio Tavecchio missed the PAT, allowing counterpart Nick Novak to win it with a 32-yard field goal.

Long snapper Jon Condo was quick to shoulder blame for this one. The ball sailed high, and Marquette King had to rush the hold. Tavecchio still thought he made it, but the ball sailed wide left.

“I had a bad snap,” Condo said. “Marquette did a good job getting it down and Giorgio did the best he could to get it through. I let the team down. The team practices all week to go out there and do their job. I had my opportunity to go out and do my job, and I didn’t come through."

Tavecchio believes he could’ve done better to get back on track.

“I should’ve shown more poise there,” the kicker said. “I haven’t seen tape of the play but, based on my immediate recollection, I could’ve done better and found a way.”

These types of mistakes happen when a team is struggling mightily. The mistakes always seem costly, and prove too much for a flawed team to overcome.

In this instance, a converted PAT means Novak’s field goal only ties it. Maybe the Raiders have a chance to win it in overtime.

“When the team drops three or four in a row now, it just sucks,” Condo said. “It just seems like when it rains, it pours for us right now. Nothing has gone right for us.”