The Raiders entered the 2017 season with playoff aspirations, but almost everything that could go wrong went wrong -- from Derek Carr's regression to Marshawn Lynch's inability to save their ground game to their defense's collapse to Amari Cooper's career-worst season. They finished the season with a 6-10 record.

Cooper certainly wasn't the Raiders' only problem, but let's stick with him for a moment. On Friday, Carr issued a defense of his top receiver when speaking with Adam Schein on SiriusXM's "Mad Dog Radio." According to Carr, Cooper played through a foot injury all season long.

"He will never tell you, and he'll never even talk about it, but that man was out there playing on one foot," Carr said. "He's out there just trying to battle for his teammates. A lot can be said about the way it didn't work out and stats and all those things, but the thing I want to talk about is: I'll roll with that guy any day of the week because he's out there trying to give it his all, even though he could barely get out there and do it. And so, that's the kind of guy I want to play with. That's how I know we're going to be just fine.

"He would never say it to you, no one would ever say it to you, but I'll say it to you to have his back. That man was out there playing as hard as he could and giving everything he could. Honestly, a lot of guys probably wouldn't have even played with what he had going on. I commend him for what he was doing."

This isn't the first time we're hearing about this. In December, Cooper began showing up on the injury report with an ankle issue. It could help explain why his output was so lackluster. 

In 2017, Cooper caught a career-low 48 passes for a career-low 680 yards. It's worth noting that 210 of those yards came in one game. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark in only one other game. Cooper did at least contribute with seven touchdowns -- only one fewer than Michael Crabtree, who led the team in receiving touchdowns.

Still, it was clear that something with Cooper and Carr was off. Pro Football Focus tracks a statistic called WR rating, which measures a quarterback's passer rating when he targets a specific receiver. Cooper's WR rating in 2017 was 80.8, which ranked 36th.

With that being said, Cooper isn't the only one deserving of blame. It's not like he's the only one who struggled. So did Carr, who regressed in pretty much every statistical category after a 2016 season that some considered MVP-caliber. 

As a result of their struggles (and because team owner Mark Davis has always wanted to bring in Jon Gruden), the duo will operate within a new offense in 2018. Expectations, though, won't be lowered even after a down season and a coaching change. By hiring Gruden, the hype has only intensified in Oakland.