There hasn’t been a lot for Raider Nation to be excited about during the past two decades. With that said, one of the few things the Las Vegas Raiders have been great at throughout that time is special teams, more specifically their kickers and punters.
It was always going to be hard for anybody to follow in the footsteps of Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski. The Raiders shuffled some players around in these two positions after those two departed, but it’s safe to say they’ve found their guys now.
The previous notable Raiders’ kicker was the aforementioned Janikowski. Sebastian left his legacy all over Raider history and also wrote his name all over the franchise’s record books. Janikowski left as the Raiders’ all-time leading scorer, and he still holds that title despite leaving the Raiders several years ago.
Those are enormous shoes to fill, and Carlson has done a tremendous job of doing that. Carlson has had a rocky start to his career and was cut by the Minnesota Vikings after missing several field goals in a key loss to the Green Bay Packers. That proved to be a blessing in disguise for both Carlson and the Raiders.
Carlson has made 27 out of 30 field goals this year, good enough for the third most field goals of any kicker in the league. Daniel is also five for six on field goals from both 40+ and 50+ yards, which is extremely impressive and ranks him among the league leaders.
Since joining the Silver and Black, Carlson has been the epitome of clutch. He’s proved himself vital to the Raiders’ success for the past two years, and he more than deserves his contract extension.
Cole has a cannon for a leg and, unfortunately, he has been one of the best players on the team this year.
That’s not to take anything away from Cole, as he has been an excellent player. Still, you don’t want to see your punter hit the field as often as AJ has this year. When he’s on the field, though, he is a game changer.
Cole’s efforts have actually been vital to any success the Raiders have had this year. His punts travel 51.1 yards on average, which is the most of any punter in the NFL. Cole has helped the Raiders flip the field in every game so far this year, and the defense has benefitted tremendously from that.
Cole has 22 punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, good enough for fifth place out of all punters. For the Raiders’ sake, they can only hope Cole doesn’t see the field as much as he has this year. With that said, Raiders’ fans can always rest assured when he does step on the field.
*Top Photo: Wade Vandervort/Las Vegas Raiders