The 2014 NFL seasons has a chance to be a special one for the Oakland Riaders. Could that include some hardware for key team members?
Khalil Mack – Rookie of the Year
More than one draft analyst wasn’t bashful about saying that Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack was the best overall player in the 2014 NFL draft class. His numbers from last season reflect that sort of complete football player: 100 tackles, 19 for a loss, 10.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, three interceptions and two touchdowns. He is the kind of player that teams have to game plan against because he can do so many different things. That is why he has as good a chance as anybody to win the coveted Rookie of the Year award, especially with the added upgrades the Oakland Raiders made to the defense.
Matt Schaub – Comeback Player of the Year
To parody a quote about the iconic band The Eagles, quarterback Matt Schaub didn’t go out with a bang in Houston, he went out with a whimper. After getting the Texans to the playoffs two-straight years and reaching two Pro Bowls, Schaub crashed and burned in 2013, throwing just 10 touchdowns to 14 interceptions and losing his job to undrafted rookie Case Keenum as Houston careened to a 2-14 finish. It doesn’t get much worse than that for a quarterback. Now his hope is a change of scenery and a more flexible offensive system will allow him to regain his old form. He’ll have a solid group of weapons around him. If the offensive line improves from where it was last year, Schaub may become the third-straight AFC West quarterback to win Comeback Player of the Year after Peyton Manning (2012) and Philip Rivers (2013).
Dennis Allen – Coach of the Year
It is make-or-break time for Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen. His team has slumped to a 4-12 finish the past two seasons and fans are growing impatient at the lack of notable progress. A wild run in free agency and a productive NFL draft this past off-season has given Allen his most talented roster to date. If he can’t do anything with it then the Raiders will have their answer about who should be their head coach beyond 2014. However, if he gets the team going in the right direction, anywhere from an 8-8 mark to a winning record and even a playoff berth might be enough to clinch him the Coach of the Year award.