The Las Vegas Raiders had a pretty disappointing year in 2022. Nobody will fault you for claiming that. On the bright side, there were a couple of positive moments from the year. While some Raiders’ players failed to live up to their expectations, many had surprisingly good years. Here are five Raiders’ players who surprised in 2022.
Josh Jacobs is a very good player, and he was viewed as such before the season. It’s not a surprise that he’s a good running back at all. However, it is a surprise that he went on to become the NFL’s leading rusher. Jacobs ran hard and physically all year, with this run being a wonderful example:
Josh Jacobs seeking contact in WK5 @ KC. Gotta love it! pic.twitter.com/dWsFD3bUMg
— ðŸˆ Coach Corey Dragge (@CoachDragge) January 26, 2023
Showcased in that clip is Jacobs’ ability to break out in the open field while also seeking contact. Jacobs led the league in rushing with a whopping 1,653 yards. That’s an extremely impressive number, and nobody expected Jacobs to win the rushing title before the season began. He silenced any doubters he once had with his performance and will rightfully earn a massive salary in free agency.
While Jarrett Stidham only played in two games, he surely exceeded the expectations placed on him by the fanbase and media. Stidham filled in for the final two games of the season and immediately earned his teammates’ respect by making plays like this:
Just two QBs have thrown for three passing TDs in a game this season against the 49ers: Patrick Mahomes and Jarrett Stidham. pic.twitter.com/sanC3Dg1GM
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 1, 2023
Stidham showed his toughness in both games he started in, and his stats reflect success as well. Stidham joined Patrick Mahomes as the only two quarterbacks to throw three touchdowns against the 49ers, and he threw for nearly 400 yards. While he may not earn the starting job next season, Stidham at least threw his hat in the ring.
Hollins was a pleasant surprise for Raiders fans, and appreciation for him grew as the season went on. Hollins emerged as the Raiders’ WR2 with a massive game against the Titans. In that contest, Hollins had eight catches for 158 yards and this very impressive touchdown as well.
Meanwhile Mack Hollins is 8 – 158 – 1 TD
— Eagles Nation (NFC Champs) (@PHLEaglesNation) September 25, 2022
That game seemed to establish some chemistry between Carr and Hollins, and that relationship only grew as the season progressed. Hollins finished the season with nearly 700 yards and was second in total receiving yards on the team.
The Raiders’ defense had its bright moments and its low ones throughout the season. One bright spot was Duron Harmon. Harmon was more of an underrated player this season, but he came through in key moments, like this:
What a play by Duron Harmon on 4th down! #RaiderNation
ðŸ“º: #AZvsLV on CBS
ðŸ“±: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/FVZamC6mMP pic.twitter.com/Kz1PAqyUUK
— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2022
Harmon finished the season with two interceptions and had the most solo tackles on the team. Harmon also finished second in total tackles with 86. Those aren’t star-caliber numbers, but Harmon filled his role extremely well in 2022.
Darren Waller was injured for a large part of the season, which ended up providing a lot of playing time for Foster Moreau. Moreau has had his ups and downs during his time in Las Vegas, but he filled in nicely in Waller’s absence.
Foster finished the year with 420 yards and made a couple of big plays throughout the season. He wasn’t incredible, but he got the job done and surprisingly finished as the Raiders’ third-leading receiver.
*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports