Many fans questioned the Las Vegas Raiders front office when they signed veteran Jason Witten. Nonetheless, his addition could actually end up helping one of the team’s biggest deficiencies, red zone offense.
One of the facets in which the Raiders need to improve next season is their red zone offense. In head coach Jon Gruden’s two years calling the offense, the Raiders have stagnated and failed to show much improvement in this category. In both 2018 and 2019, the Silver and Black remained ranked as the 22nd red zone offense in the league. Despite being one of the most underrated offseason acquisitions, Witten will be able to help the Raiders in this department.
Signing A Legend
After coming out of retirement in 2019, Witten showed that despite being 37, he still has gas left in the tank. Now, it’s up to Gruden to get that last bit out of the tight end as he looks to have the Raiders offense step up.
With the Cowboys, Witten hauled in four touchdowns while proving he’s just as reliable as ever with a 75.9 catch rate. His total first down catches were 27 in 2019, not eye-popping when compared to his prime years but he’ll still be a reliable target for quarterback Derek Carr.
As you can see in the clip below, when the Cowboys faced the Giants, Witten can still breakaway and haul in red zone passes.
This can work two-fold: Defenses can’t afford to overlook Witten. By having to account for Witten, Darren Waller could see extra opportunities. And as you saw on that clip, if Witten has single coverage on him by a linebacker, he can still make them pay.
It’s entirely possible that Witten’s best contribution could be the attention he still demands from opposing defenses. Waller, who was Carr’s favorite target last year, could reap the rewards in a two-tight end set, especially in the red zone. With defenses now having to account for Henry Ruggs III and Hunter Renfrow at all times, and Waller being assigned to the best linebacker or safety, look for Gruden to exploit possible mismatches with Witten in the red zone in 2020.
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*Top Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images